Saturday, November 14, 2020

Week 13: Not really famous, but really the LAST words for Fall 2020

So here I am, wrapping up Week 13 because I want the longest possible Thanksgiving break....... and I am actually really happy with how my Storybooks turned out. This was the first time I've done both classes at once and done the two Storybooks, and I am very pleased with both of them. Like always, it's about having faith in the PROCESS: adding stuff week by week so that in the end I am really glad that I was able to find the time and put in the effort. And with this post, the semester is done: 380 points. I'm always amazed that I can find time for the class... and always glad when I do.

The best thing about the Tiny Ramayana Storybook is that it gives me a model to do the web presentation of the Tiny Tale versions of the epics I am writing for Spring semester. I really like using images with the stories, so I will make a website for each epic, 20 pages with 10 stories on each page. I don't know exactly when I will get that done, but that is my goal for Spring: finish the books in times for students to use them, and, if possible, to make a nice website along with the usual book, audiobook, etc.

The best thing about the Twine Games project is that I learned how to do actual programming in Twine with variables and if/then conditions for the final game that I added, the Anansi game. For literally years I had wanted to do that, and this project gave me an excuse to finally get around to that. It was so fun, and it was really not that hard, so I will try to make a Twine game to go with each Tiny Tale book in the future. I don't have time now........... but I will have time after the Spring semester is over.

And it's now been ten days since I announced my decision about resigning from OU after this Spring, and I haven't felt any regrets about that decision. Just the opposite. The more I talk about it with friends and colleagues, the more I can see that there is real work for me to do that is different from my work at OU... work that I think will be more productive and useful to others, even though I will really miss teaching. Every semester has been a GREAT semester. Including this semester, even during the pandemic. And I will hope for a great final semester in the Spring........

And to wrap up this post, here's an awesome and inspiring video that I learned about from a friend just this week: the old folk ballad Tam Lyn made utterly new by Benjamin Zephaniah (lyrics here):

And for a taste of the old ballad, here's a tradition version (lyrics here):

And from Twitter, a great image for helping and being helped. I hope everybody gets the help they need to get through the rest of the semester! :-)


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Week 12: Famous Last Words... Storybooks done!

It feels a little weird writing famous last words again, but I did a bunch of work on both of my projects (Ramayana Tiny Tales in Indian Epics and Twine Games for Myth-Folklore), and they are basically DONE. I'll do a read-through on both of them to finish up in Week 13, and just like I'm encouraging students in the class to do, I'll be finished with the class in Week 13.

And I'm really happy with how both Storybooks turned out. With the Ramayana one, it's not like there was anything new exactly, but I had a lot of fun choosing the stories to include on the four pages, and I'm also happy with the use of pictures side by side with the 100-word stories. So, I'm thinking that for the web presentation of the Tiny Tales of the Ramayana and Tiny Tales of the Mahabharata next semester, this is what I'll use: a Google Site with 20 pages (10 stories on each page), as opposed to doing it as a blog. It will be worth trying as an experiment anyway! So I'll basically clone this Ramayana website and reuse the design again, since I am pretty happy with how the pages look: 

Lesser Known Folktales and Legends of
Rama, Sita, Hanuman, and Ravana

Here's what a page looks like, with alternating left-and-and-right for the image placement, plus a different color background to help mark the division between stories.

Finishing up the Twine Games project was the most exciting because I wrote my first Twine program: instead of just being a "survive" or "exit" type of game, the Anansi Game actually has variables that keep track of how many lives the player has left, how many trophies they have, which contests they have already completed, etc. It took a long time to do it, but now that I learned how the variables work and the if/else statements, I could design another game like this much more quickly. I've always wanted to learn how to do actual Twine programming, and it turned out to be even easier than I thought! Plus I was really proud of how the design of the game really reflected the nature of the trickster so that by playing the game you were, in a way, experiencing the dynamics of the trickster life itself. But without actually having to put your life on the line, ha ha.

So, I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo because I spent most of the weekend working on finishing up these projects, plus also doing a mountain of paperwork for my dad's estate (the probate-by-Zoom court hearing was last week, sigh). 

But... since I am basically done with this class (just revisions, plus one more "famous last words" post), that means I can dedicate next weekend to really plowing through on the Mahabharata, which I am excited about. Lack of time, not lack of excitement, is the problem. In fact, maybe I will go write at least a few Mahabharata stories now.

Meanwhile, that's Week 12 over and done.. .and ready for just one more week to call the class finished, with two Storybooks this time, and I'm very happy with them both. :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Week 11 Famous Last Words: ELECTION!!!

 So after the super-weird super-stress of the past few weeks, what an incredible relief to FINALLY get the Biden news today. With this lovely video too:

I got fooled into expecting the blue wave, so it was really stressful to go to bed on Tuesday, and then to get up not knowing... and then not knowing... and more not knowing, with Ann Coulter and Proud Boys on campus this week too. That was grim. Very grim.

So, there was no blue wave, but at least Biden has won, which means we have a community college instructor as First Lady (that is maybe the thing I am happiest about), and of course... Kamala Harris. Elizabeth Warren was my candidate, yes, but a future of Jill Biden and Kamala Harris sounds good to me.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all that uncertainty last week, I decided to do something that I felt very certain about: I resigned my job

The past three years have just about done me in: with my dad's illness, and then all the OU administration chaos, and now the pandemic... it's just clear that now is the time. And my boss was so great about all of it, and she even helped to adjust the seat distribution across the three classes in Spring so that it's less lopsided too.

And...... NaNoWriMo started. I should have written about that last weekend, but I just forgot! I'm doing Tiny Tales of the Mahabharata, plus wrapping up the Ramayana stories for that Tiny Tales book also. I've gotten a little off track in the past few days (ugh, too much stress!), but I can get back on track tomorrow, and surely next week is not going to be the rollercoaster of stress like last week. Although it seems like I've been saying that every week for more weeks than I can remember, ha ha.