My Daily Read: Peter Myer

March 14, 2012

Peter has been teaching as an Adjunct Instructor of Art at COCC for years. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Printmaking from The University of South Dakota and a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the University of Oregon.

ConXn: What is the first thing you read in the morning?

Peter:  I go online to Slate headlines, Doosebury, then arts section. Then Breaking News at the Atlantic site. I usually read one article and bookmark longer pieces for later, which occasionaly get read.

ConXn: What newspaper and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online versus mobile?

Peter: The Atlantic, Art in America, Art Forum, Book Forum, Dwell, Outside, and the Source as a ‘newspaper’. I read the New Yorker when I get a hand me down copy and check out Ceramics Monthy from the library. Most of these print sources have things online that I check once in a while, particularly Dwell and the Atlantic.

ConXn:  What books have you recently read?

Peter: I read something from The Thinking Eye by Paul Klee nearly everyday. He systematically explicates visual thinking. Very dense but ultimately understandable in small doses. I’ve been at it for 5-6 years.

I recently re-read Animals, Men, and Myth by Richard Lewinsohn. It’s a natural history of the often bizarre relationship between humans and animals.

Korean Buncheoung Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is the current book I’m into.

Do any stand out? The Korean Buncheoung Ceramics is direct, fresh, whimsical and amazingly contemporary for work done in the 15th and 16th centuries.

ConXn:  Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

Peter: Art in America makes sense to me now but after 3-4 years I still have to wade through Art Forum. I think it is a publication geared toward art critics more than artists, but there is usually one or two lines per issue that resonate for me, so I keep plugging away.  Ceramics Monthly and Clay Times are easily skimed by comparison.

ConXn: Do you use Twitter?

Peter: No. Those social media sites are probably valid but they scare me; they seem like time vampires.

ConXn: Do you blog? 

Peter: No

ConXn: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?

Peter:  Mystery short stories. I really enjoy a good longform article on practically anything but don’t allocate time to read them as much as I would like.  David Foster Wallace’s, The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub, about John McCain’s primary campaign in 2000, is the last such story I’ve read.


My Daily Read: Tony Russell

February 16, 2012

Tony is an Assistant Professor of English.  He has a Ph.D. in English from Purdue University and has been teaching at COCC since 2010.

ConXn: What is the first thing you read in the morning?

Tony: When I wake up in the morning or just settle down for the evening, I read the BBC Mobile. (This, of course, is aside from whatever is on the side of the cereal box, which is usually something to remind me that I am still fat and that I don’t get enough fiber in my diet.) On average, I will read 18-20 BBC articles a day—from global headlines to sports. I prefer the BBC because the stories are well researched. They provide a lot of background information that I don’t find elsewhere, and this has contributed much to the ways in which I understand global affairs.

ConXn: What newspaper and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online versus mobile?

Tony: My wife and I are crazy coupon people (oh yes, we have the baseball card sleeves, binders, and everything), so we subscribe to the Bulletin. I confess, however, that I don’t read much of it—perhaps a front page item or two. I will on occasion pull articles from the Outdoors sections for ideas on new outings and what not, but for local news, I usually read my app on my iPhone—if there’s nothing good on the BBC, LeMonde, CNN, MSNBC, or The Onion.

For magazines, I often subscribe to The New Yorker, and I’m an on-again off-again Scientific American subscriber. Secretly, I am enthralled by astrophysics, biology, and clinical psychology. Oh, and I really like stories about orangutans that use iPads, which in the long run only makes me angry because Santa neglected to fill my stocking with an iPad this year. I even bought an extra-wide stocking to accommodate for the width of the iPad. What’s more, I felt that my desire was benevolent. I only want an iPad so that I can transfer my paper-based subscriptions to digital, thus preserving the delicate balance of our planet and preserving said orangutan habitats. Sometimes Santa makes it hard to believe.

ConXn: What books have you recently read? Do any stand out?

Tony: If I rattled off a list of the books I have read in the past month or so, it would sound terribly eclectic, and I suppose it is. But I can’t be the only person that reads in categories, if you will. For instance, there are things I read purely for pleasure, those I read to better my teaching, those I read to better my courses, and those I read to remind me why physics is best read when dumbed down (see Scientific American above).

For pleasure, I am on an Alan Furst kick. If you like spy fiction or historical fiction, Furst is at the top of the list. Furst writes about Europe during the 1935-1945 period and claims to write as though he were writing the books during that period. That’s nice and all, but you’ll find plenty of twenty-“Furst” century Western liberalism that casts doubt on his claim. But don’t let that deter you. I zoomed through Dark Voyage (2005) last month and am halfway through The World at Night (1996) now.  Dark Voyage was a great yarn about smuggling Allied equipment on a merchant ship through Nazi-infested waters, but if you’re trying out Furst, read The Polish Officer first. (I’m not giving anything away.)

For reading to improve my teaching, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Carol Dweck’s Mindsets based on Julie Keener’s excellent retreat talk. Both are wonderful, and I feel like my teaching has improved because of my reading. I had a lot of deep-seated beliefs about my role in the classroom and about ways to motivate students, and I found that many of those things just weren’t as effective as I thought.

ConXn: Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

Tony: I would say, yes, definitely. I think I was much less discriminate about what I would read before. I sort of soaked everything in I could. I had some favorites, but the more I’ve become interested in certain topics, the more I find that I can only really read about them in a limited number of publications. For instance, I used to find the Journal of Popular Culture fluffy and unpredictable, but now I find many things that inform my teaching. I’ve also sort of embraced its quirkiness. After all, popular culture is varied, sporadic, and impulsive; it’s also quite ever-changing. Further, I would echo a previous post from Carol Higginbotham in that I also find more and more that I am looking in professional journals for better ways to teach things or to reach my students more than I have in the past.

ConXn: Do you use Twitter? If so, whom do you follow?

Tony: When Pear Analytics stated in their 2009 analysis of Twitter that 40% of tweets were “pointless babble,” I knew I needed to get onboard. This term I have a Twitter feed running in my WR 122 Blackboard courses where I suggest possible articles for my students’ research papers (#COCCWR122).  I tweet under the furtive name of WrProf, which I was surprised was still available. In light of my recent experiences, I have composed the following haiku:

My students don’t use
Twitter. Seems like writing profs
Don’t like to either.

ConXn: Do you blog? If so, why?

Tony: Blogging’s a tough one for me. I like the idea. In fact, I really want to do it, but like so many other online time-takers/wasters, I feel like it would consume me. Then again, I felt that way about Facebook, and I seem to control that addiction just fine. I’m a “social Facebooker.”

ConXn: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?

Tony: I teach pop culture classes, so it’s hard for me to feel guilty about anything really. I get to read cool books either way—spy novels, detective novels, graphic novels. I suppose I might say that I love Jane Austen novels or that I think Charlotte Brontë is four times the writer than Emily Brontë—or better, that Villette is everything that Jane Eyre wishes it were—but I’m far too proud to admit or divulge anything like that.

So I suppose the only thing I feel guilty about is the fact that I don’t let myself get away from books. Even when I exercise, I’m at the very least listening to a book. Yes, as I make my rounds about the COCC track, rather than raging against the machine, I’m “reading” The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, or John Buchan’s Greenmantle; and I’ve listened to all of them for free from the LibriVox project. This project only records titles are in the public domain (pre-1923), but I have enjoyed these books so much, that I began volunteering as a reader this year.

(For reference, I don’t listen to my own recordings—but only because I haven’t recorded Villette—yet.)

My Daily Read: Michele DeSilva

January 19, 2012

Michele is the Emerging Technologies Libarian at the COCC Barber Library.  She has a B.A. in Liberal Studies from OSU and a MLIS  from University of Washington.  She has been with COCC since 2006.

ConXn: What is the first thing you read in the morning?

Michele:   I’m not a loyal newspaper reader, so the first thing I read every morning really varies from morning. Some mornings, the first thing I read is my work email, but I prefer to start the day with something else, usually whatever book I happen to be reading at the moment.

ConXn: What newspaper and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online versus mobile?

Michele: I regularly read and subscribe to The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry. I read all of those in paper. I actually really like newspapers, and I will occasionally buy The New York Times in the store, but mostly I just look at it online a couple of times a week. I don’t think I could ever subscribe to a newspaper, because I wouldn’t have time to read it every day. I can’t even keep up with The New Yorker, which comes out every week.

ConXn: What books have you recently read? Do any stand out?

Michele: I’ve been on a re-reading kick lately, especially of Victorian novels. I re-read Middlemarch and enjoyed it thoroughly. Right now, I’m reading Sanctuary, by William Faulkner and How Fiction Works by James Wood, so I guess that gets me out of the Victorian era.

ConXn: Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

Michele: Oh, it’s definitely changed for me, in that I didn’t read professional literature 10 years ago at all, and now I do. I started reading the library literature about five years ago, so I’ve pretty much always kept up with it online rather than in print.

ConXn: Do you use Twitter? If so, whom do you follow?

Michele:  I use Twitter for the Library, but I don’t use it personally. I had a personal account for a little while, but I never really got into it.

ConXn: Do you blog? If so, why?

Michele: I occasionally write an entry for ConXn (this blog) and regularly write for the Library’s microblog, InfoSprinkles. One summer a couple of years ago, I kept a blog for our garden, because family members were really interested in it, but that’s it for personal blogging. I write a lot (in an old-fashioned paper journal), but I just don’t feel compelled to post it online.

ConXn: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?

Michele: I don’t feel too guilty about anything in my media diet. It’s not like everything I read is high-brow or great literature (I like a good mystery occasionally, or something similarly escapist), but I’m happy with the balance I’ve struck. More than feeling guilty about the media I consume, I feel guilty about taking the time to sit down and read because I feel like I should be doing something else more productive. Fortunately, I can usually ignore the guilt and enjoy my reading.

My Daily Read: Dr. Carol Higginbotham

November 30, 2011

Dr. Carol Higginbotham is a Professor of Chemistry.  Dr. Higginbotham, received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Montana State University and has been teaching at COCC since 1999.


ConXn: What is the first thing you read in the morning?

Carol: Honestly?  It’s typically Facebook.  I like to pick up personal messages before I get hit with the news.  But once I have seen what my friends have been up to, it’s the newspaper, online.  After that I’ll sometimes check a few favorite blogs, and by then I am usually draining my coffee cup and getting out the door.

ConXn: What newspaper and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online versus mobile?

Carol: I am an online subscriber to the New York Times, and I look at it at least once a day.  I also read local news at and, and I look at and  In print I’ll read parts of the Source on weekends, when I am a bit more chilled out and have the time to pay attention to the longer articles it contains.  I absolutely love reading The Atlantic as a Kindle mag, and I have subscriptions to Runner’s World and to American Scientist that come the old fashioned way:  in my US Mail box.

ConXn: What books have you recently read? Do any stand out?

Carol:  Each fall I try to take up a long classic book, so as the days get short I can curl up and read seriously.  This year I am trying to get through Moby Dick.  I also picked up and read both the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip von Winkle this Halloween season, because I wanted to get to know those stories in their original forms.  All these were basically free or one-dollar reads I got for my Kindle.  The best book I’ve read in the last six months was The War of the End of the World, by Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel prize for literature last year.  It’s an amazing, big, fat, epic book.  I have also recently read An Anatomy of Addiction, the Emperor of All Maladies, and The Poisoner’s Handbook.  All of these are popular science books.  Currently I am in the middle of two books:  the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman.

ConXn: Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

Carol: Absolutely.  I used to read more in scientific research journals, and these days I read more education stuff.  I am a regular reader of the Journal of Chemical Education.  I keep an eye on advances in research through aggregator websites that sort and summarize scientific advances for me.

ConXn: Do you use Twitter? If so, whom do you follow?

Carol: I joined Twitter several years ago when it was new, but at the time it wasn’t very popular.  When the people I wanted to connect with weren’t using it, I lost interest.  My account is probably still out there but I haven’t used it in a very long time.

ConXn: Do you blog? If so, why?

Carol: I used to blog.  My students were hungry for connections between the chemistry we were discussing in class and their lives outside of school, so I developed a blog as a place to explore these connections.  It was great fun for a while, and I am glad I did it.  However I found that I really needed feedback to keep up my motivation to write, so over time a lack of comments caused me to drift away from blogging.  If you want to look at it, it’s

ConXn: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?

Carol: I get more pleasure than is reasonable from reading blogs about sustainability, and bike commuter culture.  I like reading, the Daily Score from, and  These blogs are guilty pleasures for me because they mostly reinforce things I already believe in.  They don’t challenge my ideas, but they express things I already like in ways that make me like those things even more.

I also always come home from library book sales with cookbooks.  The more unusual they are, the more I enjoy them.  My collection includes a Finnish cookbook and a cookbook by Liberace.

Summer Adventure

September 30, 2010

By Kevin Grove, Sciences

Part 1

“It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”  Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

Traveling across the Harding Icefield en route from Seward to Homer, Alaska

“What do you think about calling it a day?” I wearily asked my friend Jan after thirteen hours of the thickest, most brutal, bushwhacking I have ever experienced.  He glanced back with sullen eyes and a defeated look after covering just two and a half miles the entire day and slurred, “I’m totally worked.”  Our goal was to reach the Fox River on the third day of our traverse from Seward to Kachemak Silo.  Devils club, slide alder, and hundreds of downed timbers – resembling nature’s version of pickup sticks – impeded our progress.  With the GPS still reading one and a half miles to go, we dropped our skis, unshouldered our beastly packs, and attempted to pitch our tent in the middle of the dense Sitka Spruce and Birch forest.  A black cloud of mosquitoes filled the air, and covered our bodies as we inhaled our freeze-dried dinners.  I thought to myself as I crawled into the awkwardly pitched tent, “Welcome to Alaska!”

Jan Spurkland, a native Alaskan, and I shared many backcountry climbing and skiing adventures in Bend before he moved back to Homer.  My wife, Molly, and I longed to experience Alaska and Jan easily persuaded us to meet up with him for the month of July in 2007.  Jan phoned in June to discuss his first adventurous plan: “We’ll take skis and packrafts to traverse the Harding Icefield from Seward to Kachemak Silo, a tiny Russian village 20 miles north of Homer,” he said enthusiastically.  “What are packrafts?”  I naively asked.  Jan described the individual, lightweight rafts that fold up tightly and fit in a backpack enabling endless exploration of remote, rugged terrain.  This sounded just like the Alaskan adventure I was looking for. 

We met up with Jan in Seward on July 4th, hiked Mt. Marathon, and cheered the racers as they passed.  Only after asking Jan how he finished when competing as a junior several years prior, he humbly replied, “I finished third.”  Drizzly rain the next morning dampened our spirits.  That afternoon, the weather started to clear as Jan and I eagerly packed our gear.  Molly opted to pass on the trip at the last minute as the unknown four-mile stretch of bushwhacking and heavy loads weighed on her mind.  As I shouldered my pack, loaded down with alpine touring skis and boots, a packraft, vest, paddle, and camping gear, my mind raced back to our discussion of bringing super light weight nordic skis and boots for the Harding Icefield traverse.  We had elected to go with the heavier skis and boots for stability and support on the soft, punchy, July snow we expected to find.  Usually fitting into the ‘go as light as possible’ crowd, I instantly felt the uncomfortable weight of my pack bearing down on my shoulders and hips. 

We said our goodbyes to Molly and Tara with expectations of finishing our journey in four to six days.  It felt strange setting out at the start of a trip around 6 PM, knowing we still had over six hours of daylight left.  Both eager to get the skis and boots off our packs and onto the snow, we raced up the Exit Glacier trail with blue sky and sun breaks foretelling signs of improving weather.  2500 feet of elevation gain brought us up to the amazing expanse of the Harding Icefield.

One of only four remaining Icefields in the U.S., the Harding Icefield remains from the Pleistocene Ice age over 10,000 years ago.  It receives an annual snow fall of over 400 inches and is the source of more than 35 glaciers.  Warren Harding was the first president to visit Alaska, so the Icefield now bears his name.  The Harding Icefield covers an incredible 700 square miles on the Kenai Peninsula.  The expansive scale was immediately apparent to us after gaining the northern edge at the head of the Exit Glacier.

We donned our boots and skis, relieved to drop some weight off our shoulders, and began the trek across the Icefield.  Mystical clouds hung just above the jagged peaks in the distance, scattering the evening rays poking through.  I took multiple pictures trying to capture the mood of the stunning views far in the distance.  Skinning across the plateau, we made good time on the slightly breakable crust.  Around 9:30 PM, we stopped to rest, cook up our dinner of dehydrated bean burritos, and recover from the initial effort of gaining the Icefield.  Jan’s appetite was low, as he was not feeling up to par.  Perhaps we were a little too eager charging up the trail.  I was not about to let any of the beans go to waste, and overly stuffed myself hoping to build up an energy storage for the days ahead.  After setting out again at a slower pace, we elected to stop for the day close to midnight with the light and energy in our legs fading.  Coming from the lower 48, I struggled to sleep with an unfathomable amount of light left seeping through our tent walls the entire evening.

Evening on the Harding Icefield

After five hours of rustling around, I decided to start some water brewing, beginning the new day.  We set out early, attempting to beat the heat and to capitalize on the solid snow conditions found early in the morning.  Solid snow equates to faster travel and less energy expenditure, both of utmost importance to us traversing the Icefield.  Early in the day, we came across a fresh Grizzly track in the snow.  Jan wondered aloud, “What is he searching for way out in the middle of the Harding Icefield?”  As the day went on, I began to appreciate the immense scale I was dealing with.  Nunataks, or lonely peaks, in the distance stubbornly remained in the same place after hours of travel, not appearing to get any closer.  The sunny, bluebird skies were a blessing and curse, allowing spectacular views while overheating the snow and our bodies.  We were sinking deeper and deeper into the snow as the day grew on, decreasing our rate of progress.  Close to 3 PM, we pitched the tent to take a break, escape the heat, and wait for the snow to harden. 

What are the paddles for?

A plane flew by overhead, and we eagerly looked out to see if our friend, Jack, had found us.  Jack Hart, a good friend from Bend, is the Alaska Patagonia, Swix, and Salomon sales rep.  He was going to try to find us, and as we later learned, land and surprise us with a pizza.  Unfortunately, he was unable to find us.  I still wonder just how good would have that pizza tasted.  

 Nunataks in the distance (or is that Jan?)

After resting and refueling, we set out around 7 PM attempting to reach the Tustumena Glacier before the day’s end.  With the snow getting more solid by the minute, our pace quickened.  Incredible views rewarded us, with the fading light casting long shadows as the sun tracked low across the evening sky.  Crossing the ‘hump’ in the Harding Icefield, we were now heading downhill toward the Tustumena Glacier, a welcomed relief after trending slightly uphill for the past two days.  We made a couple of turns, whooping and hollering as gravity carried us closer to our goal.  By midnight, we reached the head of the glacier, and could see Tustumena Lake far off in the distance.  Pitching the tent next to a refreshing river on the glacier, we collapsed with the setting sun. 

Gravity assisted psych

After fueling up on oatmeal the next morning, we traveled down the Tustumena Glacier to its terminus at a small lake.  This proved to be much more difficult than we originally thought.  We encountered a labyrinth of crevasses, seracs, and bridges making our progress painfully slow.  In the middle of it all, I broke my crampon; some clever engineering was required to proceed.  An invigorating problem solving challenge replaced the initial feeling of desperation.  The first two prototypes of duct tape and thin string quickly failed.  Going back to the drawing board, I removed the thick shoelace from my ski boot and attacked the problem with the discipline of a seasoned engineer, while pushing nagging thoughts of desperation out of my mind.  Finally, a reasonable solution allowed us to progress down the glacier.  Turquoise rivers meandered in the snow and ice before vanishing into large sinkholes.  Jan tended to his silver dollar sized blisters plaguing his feet, never once complaining. 

— to be continued……

What’s in my Google Reader?

May 13, 2010

By Stacey Donohue, Humanities

Google Reader is an excellent resource for bookmarking blogs and other websites with regular updates so that you do not have to visit each site separately (Ralph Phillips has a great post on how to use Google Reader, if you want more information).  Here are a few of my favorite academic/book related sites:

  1. ProfHacker is a blog hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, with daily postings by various professors on issues related to teaching and learning.  This posting was a particularly interesting one on Leading Effective Classroom Discussions on Controversial Issues. Another great post was on Revising Google Docs for Classroom Use. But they also have fun postings, such as lunch recipes for busy professors.
  2. Arts and Letters Daily is one of those resources that can eat up hours of your life.  Hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, this site provides links to magazine, newspaper articles, websites, etc. on topic that go far beyond higher education.  It’s an incredible, and free, source for information about what’s happening in the world of ideas.
  3. Bookforum’s daily blog posting is a compilation of book reviews and articles related to new books. They usually post a series of related links several times a day.  Since I don’t have time to read all of these books, it’s my way of keeping up with the books I wish I had time to read.
  4. Inside HigherEd’s daily postings are many (up to 15 new ones a day), but with Google Reader, I can skim through the headlines and decide which ones to read.  Articles on community colleges are common here, and worth the read (you may have received one I forwarded since I forward many!).
  5. Finally, when I need a new project to work on (usually in the summer) I check out UPenn’s Call for Papers: here I can find information about upcoming conferences and book/article projects. Most of my conference presentations and publications are a result of finding the “call” on this website.

These are just a few of the academic resources I check regularly, but I’d love to hear about more, so post your suggestions in the comments!

Take a trip for spring break!

March 17, 2010

Can’t wait for Spring break!  Just a couple more days!

Have no plans to take a trip?  Eugen Helmbrecht, our COCC Media Services specialist, can help here.  Watch his beautifully filmed videos to take a trip to places like Clear Lake, Alvord Desert, or the Steens Mountains. 

If you are a COCC staff or faculty, while you are on campus, you are ecouraged to view Eugen’s videos via the N: drive (that way you do not drain the COCC bandwidth…).   The links to the videos are located at:

N:\Campus Photos\Videos for Central Oregon TV

For those of you off-campus, you may view the videos via the web site at

Watching these films, I was really impressed by the gorgeous scenery, most of it reflecting the region where we live.  Aren’t we the luckiest  to be surrounded by such  beautiful country!?  

Have a great break!