Luke’s Dramatic GIF

June 17th, 2011

I like to mentally picture this moment when my parents say something like, “You’ll grow up to be like us, just you wait.”

SW Luke NO

Love you, Mom & Dad! 😀

A Guac Success!

June 9th, 2011

It was, actually.  A success with all the enthusiasm of Borat’s catchphrase.

Borat Great Success

Living on my own has taught me an important lesson: I have to feed myself, myself.  And I’m a picky person without a lot of free cash–no frequent eating out, even if I wanted to, which I don’t, because ew.  What I really want is my mom’s cooking, and I want it like I used to have it: Magically appearing on my plate every evening.

Sadly, see aforementioned lesson.

Conclusion: I need to learn to cook.

I don’t like to cook.  Largely because I’ve been spoiled, and I do it when I’m already hungry.  Bad combination! Not to mention the dishes, the mess you have to clean up, all on your own!  Cleaning up really sucks when the food you just made wasn’t even appetizing.

Tragically, life forced my hand.  Also, my boyfriend mentioned that it would be nice if I knew the basics; he’s a good cook already, and I don’t want him to be forced into the permanent role of house chef. So I’m being a good person and an adult (and making sure I don’t starve) by pulling out the pots and pans more, microwaving less.

I noticed that planning meals in advance is useful and takes the stress out of coming home hungry.  So that’s being worked on.  The other

problem I frequently run into is creating side dishes.  I’m a vegetarian who grew up eating meat; the food that made up the side course have, over these last few years, become my main dish.  What the heck do I supplement my angel hair pasta with, now?  It used to be chicken… and pasta.  Now it’s pasta… and ???.

Yesterday’s dinner plans involved microwaving an Amys burrito, but I had nothing to go with it.  A co-worker helpfully suggested that I get some guacamole and chips to go with it.  Turns out, he meant getting the guac pre-packaged, but I thought he meant making it myself.  By  the time it was clear, I’d already psyched myself up and located a recipe.

Luckily, making guacamole isn’t that difficult!  With help from my friend and roommate, we successfully created a delicious addition to the main meal.  Maybe the burrito was microwaved, but I’m on my way, people!

You might think 400 words is a bit much to rave about how I made guacamole.  You obviously do not know me.

Making the Guacamole

Making the Guacamole

The Guac Is Done!

The Finished Product!

What’s In My Bag

June 9th, 2011

Now and then I like to visit sites like Survival Cache that talk about how to live after a hypothetical non-religious apocalypse (to put it kindly).  To put it unkindly, I’m talking about those sites that are made of people who are honest-to-god terrified that the world is ripe for disaster and anarchy, and think we ought to have plans in place for when nuclear bombs go off or governments implode.

They make good resources for creative fiction stories, and I never went camping as a kid, learned to fish, shoot a gun, etc.  They frequently explain in layman’s terms things like that, which is great if you want a contemporary action-packed story.

Well, while I floated around these websites, I noticed a very popular idea:  Bug Out Bags.  These are typically backpacks full of hiking and navigation equipment–things you’d usually take with you on a camping trip with just a little bit of crazy added for flavor (never know when you’ll need that 9 millimeter).  As an espionage enthusiast,  I’ve also read that Bug Out Bags are sometimes used by spies in case they need to get out of a suddenly hostile environment.

Anyway, I’m neither a spy nor a survivalist, but I do like to be prepared, and besides, it made me think about what I carry around in my own bag, and how it is a reflection of myself.  So today I took out all the junk I keep in my backpack and started documenting.

Here’s what I found:

Pack Contents

The Contents of My Backpack

Click on the image to go to my Flickr site, where I labeled everything directly on the photo and added notes.

As a list:

  • Stainless steel water bottle
  • 2 pairs of just-purchased goggles (not typically in my pack)
  • 3 greeting cards for various occasions
  • Napkins that also double as tissues for my bad allergies, though I’ve found them useful for other purposes (see: Knowing Where One’s Towel Is)
  • Umbrella
  • Keys & bonus cards
  • Canvas shopping bag
  • Lanyard with two flashdrives
  • Bike pump
  • USB adapter for my phone
  • My laptop
  • Emergency scantron for pop quizzes (or lapses in memory about real quizzes)
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Lip gloss
  • Power cord for laptop
  • Wireless mouse & USB adapter
  • Headphones with case
  • Folder, notebook, textbook, organizer, and pencil case

You can obviously tell what my occupations are: Techie and student.  You can gather that I have a bike (the pump), that I’m female (the lip gloss), that I like being prepared for all occasions (scantron, Swiss Army knife, greeting cards, napkins, flash drives, umbrella), and that I’m a geek (wireless mouse, really, Leigh?).  I try to be earth-friendly (canvas bag, reusable water bottle), and I’m either anal-retentive or organized (pencil case, folder, organizer).

I evidently care only a little for fashion or appearance based on the utilitarian wallet and the single cosmetic item.  I am physically active, however, if I bought goggles.

Well.  I knew all these things about myself before doing this exercise, but it was still fun to see how much you can gather about a person by the things they carry around daily–not just what they do with their time, but how they might act, even what they might look like.

So, what’s in your bag?

The Pack

We've been through a lot together: High school, Mexico, Europe, and college...

The Little Devil Considers Faculty Academy 2011

May 16th, 2011

This summer I attended Faculty Academy(‘s sweet 16).  I went in not knowing what to expect, exactly.  I knew the basics–people would arrive, we would all wear name tags and smile at each other, I would help out as directed.  I even knew a fair amount about the presentations; earlier in the year, I helped fill out an Excel sheet, grabbing key words from presentation summaries.  Yet as the days grew closer, as my fellow DTLT student aides and I assisted an increasing frantic Martha Burtis, I felt further away from understanding the major concepts that lay at the heart of the conference.  I stayed up late the night before, anxious, excited.

Most certainly, the part of the event I was looking least forward to was waking up early.  Sure, laugh if you will, but it is a god-awful thing to get up at 6:30 to arrive even close to on time at 8:00 AM.  I know most people have it worse (my mom starts her routine at 4:45 during the work week), but a college student is allowed to complain a little; I am well aware, as I approach graduation, these glory days won’t last for much longer.

I arrived with a latte in my hand (thanks to my friend, Joe Calpin) to a lovely breakfast spread and a handful of very excited people.  Faculty Academy! Faculty Academy! Joe is a huge FA enthusiast, and it was contagious.

Michael Wesch at FA

Michael Wesch at Faculty Academy

People began arriving, most recognizable to me as UMW faculty.  As we all settled in for the welcome and opening speeches, I prepared my Android for some serious Tweeting.  It was the job of the student aides to manage the Twitter feed (umwfa11), though Joe manned the camera for the major talks.

Michael Wesch, an Anthropology professor from Kansas State University, was our Keynote Speaker and opened the conference with a real bang.  The presentation, called “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able: New Learning Environments for New Media Environments”, inspired me personally, and I felt a real boost of energy from all the attendees.  It was an awesome start, made me excited for the whole business of learning technologies.  Since Andy Rush recorded the event, you can view it here: I’m going to be reviewing it again, myself (and probably take notes… :P).


Photo Taken During the Concurrent Sessions

I viewed many of the presentations: The student aides decided to split ourselves up among all the rooms during the concurrent sessions so there would be Twitter coverage for everyone.  I’ll have to go back over the whole list and individually cover the ones I thought particularly interesting (I’m already thinking “Dirtying Young Minds”, that was great).  For now, I want to cover the main events.

Tom Woodward was one of our two plenary presenters, and his appearance was decidedly notable because he hails from the K-12 system.  This is the presentation that got me thinking the most, I believe (see it here:  I’ve never been pleased with our public education system, and I did not have the most enjoyable experience there, either.  Even as I went through all of it, I felt there was far too much emphasis on test-taking.  To my teachers, scores defined me more than personal actions.  I was aware that it was not what I was capable of as a person, but what numbers I was capable of achieving that would matter to colleges.

Although I did not know this, a common complaint among higher-learning educators is the kind of student they receive.  Freshman seem to find it difficult to think critically, act independently to problem solve, and write well.  I’ve noticed the first two among my peers (only after I escaped them myself), and originally blamed them on laziness.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I think partial responsibility lies with the system we use to educate our young people.

If that system is not producing the type of scholars we want, how do we change it?  This is a problem that the rest of Faculty Academy addresses.  Educator are all there to improve techniques, to share how the methods they’ve used to expand student minds beyond narrow thinking.  Seeing these efforts is a privilege for me.  I get an insider’s view at how higher-ed functions, not to mention feel the excitement over ways technology is being implemented in this setting.

DTLT Student Aide Team Wins Faculty Academy 2011 Deck Wars!

As someone also considering a future in academia, I found the experience enlightening, even as it raised more questions for me.  I want to find a job in academia, but faced with tough competition for employment as a professor, I keep my eyes open to other opportunities.  The most fundamental question plagues me, however–why teach?  My generation desires a job that not only pays the bills, but is in some way fulfilling. And if not in higher-ed, then where? K-12 seems overly restrictive for how I would prefer to teach.  I think I’ll leave the exploration of those questions to another post.

Faculty Academy was a great experience.  I actually feel sad that many of my peers don’t get to attend (though, to be honest, they probably wouldn’t be interested–a shame in itself).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s FA, and even have my sights set on seeing if I can attend more tech ed conferences in the meantime.

A Self-Reflection

April 20th, 2011

Two lives are missing from the tree
Two hanging participles, unfinished phrases
Two Dark Ages, voids in my family history

In a college cafe, I sit across a speckled plastic table
From a girl who wants to be my friend, great blonde hair
Like a cloud had settled upon her head
Desperation races through my veins, my hands
Kept beneath the table to hide white knuckles
I want to be a friend, too, but I fade out
Of focus.  That’s all I can remember.

Four years are missing from my head
Four indefinite chapters in my biography

The plastic porch chair is sticky hot
Against what skin has been exposed
To a sun growing hazy and dim in my sight
North Carolina heat speeds the drowsiness, speeds
The tires on their way, rushing to meet me
And unfurl a white bed and waiting hands
That finish my parent’s sentences
I’ve been waiting for that conclusion.

One history rolls through my veins
Three names have been scrubbed by an eraser
One name remained.

— Leighanne Ellis

Diving In Cenotes

April 14th, 2011

In Mexico, an old cenote marks
The death of dinosaurs, where rocks from space
Began an icy age.  I visited the place
In younger days, beheld a pool opaque.

I dove beneath its tranquil, ancient skin,
A trespasser, pursuing pooling depths.
Although I held my breath and wished for fins,
The fathoms ensured its secrets were kept.

In you, I met my own cenote, wide
Across, but knew the sorry shallow banks
Of my heart.  Without a doubt I would provide
You disappointment, sadness.  It was a mistake:

I reached for sand, and found the well was deep.
This lake is endless, bountiful, replete.

By:  Leighanne Ellis

Through Inferno To Do A Husband’s Duty

March 24th, 2011

She had been a bitch the day before she died.
A frothing, cloven-hooved cunt the like of which
Every modern man has seen his wife transform
Into at some point in their marriage.

She wasn’t even on the rag;
Her blood was elsewhere, and boiling.

The trash couldn’t be disposed fast enough;
The sheep wasn’t slaughtered in time for her to cook it right;
I couldn’t dry the dishes before her tongue struck.

So maybe after we sent the kids to bed,
I called her a few choice words,
And I might have slept on the couch.
But all marriages go through such things.

The next day, you say you’re sorry
Work on that fourth baby, and put what’s
Past behind you.

That morning, as the chicken’s squawking woke me,
I stumbled, feet slapping the chilly wood flooring, to our bedroom.
The four-poster creaked, the feather mattress lumped,
Only to find your nipples, darling, cold to my touch,
Your mouth open, but not with snores,
The dark brush between your legs dry as the fire’s ashes.

Oh, Beatrice.  I regret what I said,
And I had known you were a spiteful woman,
But forcing me to walk through Hell
To apologize when you knew I would be sorry,
It was a little much, even for you.

By:  Leighanne Ellis

Two More Bullet Articles In the Works (And One Editorial)

March 24th, 2011

For my Newsgathering class, I am working with a group of my classmates on computer abuse at UMW.  Five people are involved for this, so it will hopefully be well-written and well-researched, which is always fulfilling.

It’s been interesting to be the group leader.  For one thing, I still don’t view myself as having a leader-like personality.  On the other hand, I certainly don’t tolerate being under poor management, myself.  Yet I find myself in these positions more and more frequently.  But I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’d rather be a leader than a follower, due to simple obstinance, so I might as well get used to it.

The other article I’m working on is an individual pursuit.  Our own Dr. Claudia Emerson is being inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and I offered to take the job of writing about it.  Getting interviews done under such time constraints is terribly difficult (I accepted the lead on Tuesday, and I have classes, homework, and work, mind you).

What on earth is driving me to take on these extra tasks?  Well, getting my name in print is a rush every time, of course, but more heady is the sense of power I feel through journalism.  I’m allowed to ask pressing and pertinent questions to people in positions of power.  When I publish a piece, readers know they can trust me to have gotten the facts.  Trust is an amazing thing to have in this day of skepticism and cynics.

So, be on the lookout for more from me in the newspaper, I hope!

An Old Typwriter

March 18th, 2011

My father wrote letters on an old typewriter

That he didn’t keep. I found them,

Straining in the confines of

An open-mouthed baggie,

And wondered who had kept them.

Unfolded delicately, because they were like

Finding autumn leaves in a winter landscape,

Their stories were different

From the ones he told my siblings and me.

His crush was not my mother.

It was some girl named Cindy, or Sandy,

With long amber hair, in an age

When his hair wasn’t white.

Honestly I don’t remember the name of that woman,

(And probably, neither does he)

Nor what color hair she might have had.

I know just the shock of a Kim’s lack, and

Surprise at the youth my old man


My letters are in the ether,

But my diaries are of this world,

And I wonder if my children will be shocked

To learn of a vivid, youngster’s life before them,

Before their father, when my eyes were wide

With endless possibilities for lovers and dreams.

Inky Crash

March 10th, 2011
Ink Truck Crash

The Real Ink Truck Crash

An ink truck driver misjudged the height of his truck, and voila! A mess on I-95 near Boston.  (Clicking on the picture will take you to the article.)

Probably bad for the environment.  Mostly, though, I’m thinking how cool would be if we commissioned people to legally splatter paint on bridges like this.  I’d appreciate the much prettier drive.

Actually, I would love it if UMW covered some of its bland hallways with murals or some such.  Get students busy on campus, even involve the Art department.

How exactly would I get this to happen?