21 July, 2015

Solidarity Update

 "There's clearly something wrong with him." - Shawna L. Anderson*, JCTC Office of Institutional Research

Honestly there hasn't been much to report. I'm waiting on the rest of a response from my third Open Records Request before I hit them with another one.

There was one interesting tidbit of information in the last go round, though. As part of my last ORR to the Office of Legal services, I requested " a detailed record, minus any personal identifying information.. except for the campus where the alleged violation occurred... of any and all alleged and actual FERPA violations in the whole KCTCS system over the past 7 years, including the official resolution."

You might recall, Dear Friends and Faithful Readers, that I was terminated from JCTCS and banned from all KCTCS campuses in the state of Kentucky. The flimsy excuse they used was a supposed FERPA violation on social media. You might also recall that as the result of my first Open Records Request, I learned that certain administrative lap dogs took to stalking my online life in January 2015 after  The Cone Man Saga. One of them is named in the above quote, taken from some of the pages off the ORR's that I'm collecting in an attempt to get the true events unearthed and the roaches killing the clockworks of higher education exposed to the light.

Since I was terminated (and banned) on the pretext of a FERPA violation, I thought there was some record kept of such occurrences, particularly since an institution of higher yearning ought to be interested in knowing whether they need to change their orientation policy in reaction to some egregious trend of underpaid instructors bandying about the names and grades of students and bad-mouthing administrators all over social media.

However, this is the response I received:

"A response to this request cannot be provided in that there are no records in existence containing the requested information. Therefore, this portion of your requests is denied pursuant to KRS 61.870(2)."**

So, they don't keep records?   

It's possible that I asked the question the wrong way, so I may take another tact.  But if they indeed do not keep records like this it does bear asking the question why. The only thing colleges and universities have mastered at all is record keeping. So if they are not keeping records of this kind of information, then there is a reason why.

Solidarity!
I want to thank everyone again who signed the petition to have me reinstated without prejudice. If you'd still like to, or if you want to pass it around, here it is.
Some have expressed an interest in writing letters of support of my reinstatement. Here are some addresses:
___________________________________________________________________________
 * This is most like one or all of the people previously referred to as #respondent53
** The red font type is theirs.

20 July, 2015

Gig Life Along the Dirty, Sacred River: Part 1 of ?

This is the gig.

The absolute deadline is Tuesday 9am. Friday afternoon is golden. Monday 5pm is the preferred latest, as this gives them time to stay flexible in determining whether the article meets their needs.

This is the gig.

Mornings have become a version of controlled chaos. The different accommodations and deals we made with ourselves to extend Sunday, to hold onto the last bit of the weekend, have come full circle.  Amanda gets ready to go her job. She's almost always the first up these days, so she lets the dogs out and tries to mentally prepare for what she has called "the cube life." I've fallen out of the discipline I had in my 30's, so I let myself lounge some. This is a habit I need break, because discipline is at the heart of everything I do. Discipline is the center. Discipline is the golden spike holding it all together.

This is the gig.

News isn't the sexiest writing, but it has meaning. It has purpose. In these, the latter days of Empire, writing the news isn't about informing the public so much as it is providing the larger narrative people need to understand the world around them. It's about making connections, ferreting out details, and slinging truth with as much detail and style as possible.

This is the gig.

There are those who claim to simply want the media to report "the facts." But the facts are rarely simple; and when they are, all that means is there's another story underneath that needs to crawl out in the air and light. Also I find that people are lying, mostly to themselves, when they say they just want the facts. What people want is a narrative that doesn't counter the narrative they've already told themselves over their lifetime. "Truth" is often a story we tell ourselves to explain how the world works, so we can stop paying attention and focus on other things.

This is the gig.

Amanda has been at work a half hour. The house is quiet for the moment. I'm drinking coffee and remembering that I didn't eat breakfast. I'm at my desk in the basement writing this, and as I am, the articles I have to knock out today are percolating in the back of my head, just they have been for the last few days. Sometimes the hardest part of this gig is finding the story -- not spin, as the cynics call it, but focus. A good news writer provides a lens, just like a movie director provides a lens. Not knowing the focus of an article before I sit down to write it frustrates me. Think of an article's focus like the closing of a giant sack. In order to find that focus, the sack has to be open to all things, to everything. In this, writing news is not unlike writing poetry, since writing poetry means being open to all things. But at some point, the sack is full. At some point, it must be tied off, or it will overflow and everything I've been trying to explain will be lost in the miasma.

This is the gig.

When I'm being honest, I tell people this gig is really about muckraking. The gig is about wading into the shit and public relations spin. The gig is about finding half rotten molars and turning them into pearls. The gig is about the same old ontological argument as poetry -- trying to find what a literature professor of mine once called Big "T" truth as opposed to Little "t" truth. The gig is an exercise in semantics -- finding the meaning of meaning.

This is the gig.

I read recently that I have more opportunity than ever in this "recovered" economy. Our house was built in 1946. It has old house problems. There are leaks that needs to be repaired that the recent rains have brought to our attention. The kitchen floor needs to be leveled from underneath. We have project plans for the dining room and the kitchen. The backyard is a jungle that could be an Eden. There are two more adult eaters and another dog living here for awhile. I remind myself, almost daily, that there is more outside of my control than in it. I have begun an almost perpetual form of meditation and prayer.  What I want most is a peaceful household, but I am constantly having to negotiate terms with myself. I was watching a show on stream recently and one of the characters said Being a father means being responsible for other other people. At least once a day I wonder how my father handled it -- truly handled it, as opposed to my memory of him handling it. And then I think about how I'm supposed to be able to rake in all this cash because it's the "gig economy" and I want to scream and unleash the demon in my heart.

This is the gig.

Everything reduces to poetry. Writing news has its own rhythm and resonance. It  has it's own alliteration and assonance. The focus is often born out of the form the article takes. I love it like I love teaching and poetry. They each takes a significant toll. They each simultaneously feed and emaciate the fabric of my soul. I meditate and pray on process. I look for the light in my daughter's eyes and hope it never fades. I dream of Montana and perpetual motion. I wait for Amanda to get home so I can find resolve and focus in her arms.

08 July, 2015

Respite Along the Dirty, Sacred River

During one of the recent torrential downpours, we discovered a leak in the dining room ceiling.  Like all things built by men, houses eventually spring leaks. We've narrowed it down to specific area on the roof -- which, if the rain breaks long enough, I'll crawl up there and see what needs to be done.

I generally like my more domesticated mode, though the life I've lived up to this point has left me woefully ill-prepared in the "How-Tos" of house repair. Words are my wheelhouse and most everything else is something else I've learned.  I'm part of a generation that either unwisely chose or was given no choice but to develop an expertise... the result that Ralph Waldo Emerson warned against in The American Scholar. I was schooled, but my education has taken a path outside of formal education.  I am always on the look out for teachers, for elders.  And this is a good thing, because while I can put words together in an effective way, I'll have to learn how to make structural home repairs.

Lately I've been preoccupied with my (still-ongoing) war against Versailles, with the political cycle, and with finding paying work. Lately my life feels like the psychological equivalent to being drawn and quartered -- being pulled in all directions tied to forces I can neither control nor really see. Poetry pulls. Work pulls. Family pulls. My need to improve my little corner of the world pulls. Other people pull.  I should be used to this by now. I'm a Pisces, after all, and forever swimming simultaneously in two directions... but my skin has worn thin of late.  I look in the mirror and see more a fool than a knight errant.  But I've learned that these mirages are temporary.  I stay in the moment and move forward because there is nothing else to do and I'm too stubborn to let the bastards win by stopping.

So, I get to learn how to fix a leaky roof. I get to learn how to shore up a badly built foundation (that would be the kitchen.) I get to learn how to do all kinds of things that I was not really prepared for by any of the education I've had. I see that as part of the journey, and I am lucky that on this journey I am not alone.