Farewell to a colleague
A colleague of mine from Criminal Justice, Michael Blankenship, died suddenly on campus last week after teaching a class. I didn’t know him well, but we had a couple of nice chats, and I read his blog. Today the campus held a funeral for him. I couldn’t attend because I had to teach, but I was delighted to find the campus had roped off a small parking lot for what looked like a large
biker gang’s worth funeral cortège of motorcycles. And lo! there was definitely a chain-smoking, bandanna-wearing, leather-clad biker gang vibe among the people returning to their hogs. Alas, I wasn’t brave enough to snap a photo, but I love the idea of a professor with a posse.
Mike had an amazing personal story from GED to Ph.D. A native of Asheville, N.C., he served as a police officer for seven years before earning a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master’s in public affairs from Western Carolina University and a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.
He came to Boise State in 2002 from East Tennessee State University. During his tenure as SSPA dean, he initiated new research centers focused on urban and regional planning, aging, and Idaho history and politics. He also helped launch graduate programs in urban and regional planning, gerontology and anthropology. His research focused on capital punishment and white-collar crime. Mike regularly was quoted by local media as an expert on crime and social justice issues.
If you’re interested in criminal and social justice, you might check out his blog, The Justice Gambit.
Criminal justice among the preschool set
When I arrived yesterday to pick up Lucas from preschool, he informed me that he wanted to finish coloring a design for his teacher. So I settled in at the table where he sat with four other boys, three of whom were building a house from plastic panels and playing with little figures. I listened in:
“Nooooo! Don’t send me to juvie!”
“You’ve been bad. I have to arrest you!”
I’m beginning to think Fang is onto something with his repeated references to Lucas’s schoolmates as proto-thugs.
Abuzz, thanks to Shiva’s stuckness-destroying powers
Now that summer is on the horizon, my mind is completely abuzz with all kinds of possibilities. . . Grants to write, articles to polish and send off, that writing guide to finish, a book project to revisit and another to doodle around, a lightning-fast U.S. history survey to teach (three weeks for 1877 to the present–yes, I’ll be embracing the uncoverage model, which really is sort of my modus operandi anyway, but this takes it to a new level). Plus: novels to read, trips to take to visit family and archives, art to be made–and a five-year-old who needs to learn to ride a bike, dammit.
Maybe I should stop with all the Shiva Nata, which I’ve taken to doing in short bursts (5 minutes!) at work. It’s causing too many moments of bing, and I can’t keep up. I’m in the middle of reading Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose, which addresses the advantages and liabilities of what Sher calls “scanner personalities”–people who can find themselves interested in (maybe too) many things–and I’m trying to keep a “scanner daybook” handy where I can jot down all my ideas so that I don’t lose any that might prove useful after they’ve marinated a bit.
I did some Shiva Nata with my senior capstone writing seminar students last week, and they played along nicely. I saw a big improvement in some of their papers this week, and one student did indeed chalk up her new way of thinking about her paper to Dance of Shiva. She totally rewrote what was mostly a plain-vanilla, not particularly thesis-driven biographical paper of Pamela Colman Smith (illustrator of the twentieth century’s most popular Tarot deck), and reworked it into a fairly well-argued paper that opens with the metaphor of how reading primary sources in relation to one another has parallels with reading Tarot cards. It’s a nice meditation, and she’s totally psyched about Colman Smith now, so much so that she’s trying to find a way into the Huntington Library to look at her papers. So yay for that.
What are you up to these days?