A Distant Voice, Part 2: The Mentor

(Click here for the first part of this story: A Distant Voice: Preface.)

The Mentor

The rest of that evening and all day Sunday, Auntie was irritable, scolding me for the slightest infraction, especially if I made noise. She worked obsessively in her thinking room, only coming out for prayers or to give me another dry granola bar that I could hardly swallow. She wouldn’t let me invite my friend Kenneth over, so I went to his apartment, three stories above us, a much bigger, brighter place with polished hard-wood floors, new furniture, and sunflowers in a vase.

As we were jumping on his bed, I told him that my auntie had called E.T. He didn’t believe me and pushed me off the bed. I wasn’t sure I believed it either, so I didn’t fight back. I stayed as long as his mother would allow, even after Kenneth stopped playing with me. Quietly, I watched him play computer games.

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Topic Proposal Writing Assignment for Academic Website, or Research Log

Topic Proposal

1000 points

Background

This semester you will find your own topic, currently in the news, that intellectually engages you and spend the semester exploring, researching, writing and creating content about it, so that you may become an expert on it. As your writing and content will be public, on an academic website you create, remember to pick something that will show a side of yourself you would like future teachers and employers to see.

Make sure the semester-long topic you pick satisfies the following criteria:

  1. You have an intellectual interest in the topic that will last at least 4 months.
  2. You are open-minded about the topic, able to be objective and willing to have your opinions change.
  3. You can find credible and timely research on the topic (initially from a major U.S. city newspaper or NPR station and later on in the semester from other credible sources) and you can understand this research.
  4. You have not picked something too broad (a common mistake) or too narrow so that you could successfully engage with this topic for the semester and become something of an expert on it.

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Overview of Writing Assignments for 214: Second Year Written Composition, Focused on Digital Literacies

Overview of Writing Assignments for 214: The Electric Word!

Topic Selection (1000 points): In 750-1000 words, describe the topic that you have selected for the Inquiry Series and the Sustained Argument and explain your interest in detail, specifically when you first became interested in the topic and why you are interested in it now. Who is the topic important to (target audience) and why does it matter (purpose)? What doesn’t the average person know about your topic, but should know to understand it more fully? What questions do you have on the topic that you would like to answer eventually?

Due September 22nd

 

Inquiry Series (3000 points): Write a series of 4 original posts of 750-1000 words each (the overall total must be between 3000-4000 words), meeting the following tasks: a rhetorical analysis, an evaluation of credibility, an analysis of stakeholders, and primary research. Each post must contain working links to sources sources with traditional MLA in-text citations and works cited. (Note: students may use the citation format from their field but must be consistent.) Students should use feedback they received on the appraisal essay and the topic proposal to improve their writing. Each student should also request detailed feedback on the second, third, or fourth post at any time during the inquiry series, and they should meet with me at least once before midterm for more recommendations on improving their writing.

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A Distant Voice, Part 1: Contact

(Click here for the first part of this story: A Distant Voice: Preface.)

The day Auntie Azra realized that she had probably found traces of extraterrestrial communication, I was bored and lonely. No one to play with, no one to talk to.

I was alone, as usual.

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A Distant Voice: Preface

When we made contact, it was not an earth-shattering meeting. It was not an invasion, nor an offer of friendship. It was not even contact. It was a whisper overheard in the darkness.

We were eavesdropping on a conversation that had taken place 90 years before. It would take 90 years before our ecstatic greetings reached Kepler 266f and another 90 years before we could hope for a reply.

Yet that distant voice changed everything.

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Image credit: NASA Ames / SETI Institute

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Guest Post on Save the Bay Blog: Biodiversity and Ronosaurus Rex’s Walk Around the San Francisco Bay

Save the Bay, the organization that did actually save the bay from plans to fill it in 60 percent to become a narrow shipping channel, invited me to write a guest post for their blog. I wrote about the biodiversity I saw–and didn’t see–on my walk around the San Francisco Bay. Check it out!

The Furies, Part 4: The Gracious Ones

(Click here for The Furies, Part 1: Spite.)

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In silence, they drove down to Colma, a bright, high fog pouring over the freeway. Holding Ellie’s hand tightly, Alex tried to ignore the leering faces of the harpies, who kept pace with the Volkswagen, the tips of their wings ticking against the side of the car. Sometimes one would turn in the wind and rise out of sight.

As soon as he began to hope it had flown away, it would drop from the fog ahead of them, swooping for the windshield. Alex braced for impact, but the harpies would pull up at the last moment, their talons skittering across the rounded roof.

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The Furies, Part 3: Endless

(Click here for The Furies: Part 1: Spite.)

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He woke to light, searing light, life-destroying light. He struggled to hide his face, but something was holding him down, pinning his arms to his sides. “The light!”

“Alex,” Ellie said gently. He felt a pressure on his hand. “Alexandros, they have strapped you down. They thought you were trying to kill yourself. What else could they think? They didn’t see the window break. They didn’t see you rise up like that girl in The Exorcist. They didn’t see the scratches appear on your body. I–I saw it happen, and I still don’t know what to think.”

“The light!” he said. “Why is it so bright?”

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The Furies, Part 2: Vengeance

(Click here for The Furies, Part 1: Spite.)

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Ellie pulled up across the street from the box-like house they had lived in until their family fell apart, the house he now lived in alone. “Whatever happened to Candice?” she asked abruptly.

“What? Why are you asking about her? Jesus, what timing! What does she have to do with anything?”

“I liked her a lot. I think she was good for you, you know, helped to ease your anger. Seriously. Maybe you should call her.”

“She left me. End of story.” He shrugged. “I should never have let her disrespect me. I should have shown her who was boss. Dad would never have taken her shit. Sure, I taught her a few good lessons, but it wasn’t good enough. I just wasn’t strong enough to keep her.”

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