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The Broad Behind the Beard

Oh, hello there. I didn’t hear you come in.

My name is Kate Strayer, or so I would have you believe. If you know me then you know what my name is, and if you don’t know me then you don’t need to.

I’m a lapsed classicist in the process of building a new identity and a more practical career. Academic life was eating my soul and claiming my every waking moment, and with all the budget cuts and hiring freezes going on in universities now, the likelihood of my becoming a professor (or finding another job that offered a comparable challenge for comparable pay) was decreasing all the time. I still love Greek and Latin and linguistics, I’ll never forget the good times with Homer and Ovid, but I don’t regret parting ways with a competitive and exhausting 15-year academic training program that was less and less likely to result in anything resembling gainful or stable employment.

I write all kinds of things, and this site is where a lot of the things end up. Inappropriate poems, anecdotes, parodies, manuscript excerpts, serious poems, gangsta throwdowns, language experiments, enraged diatribes, seriously inappropriate poems, word play. Whatever. There’s no theme. It’s not the kind of site where the writer promotes her writing or posts lists of tips on how to write. I don’t think we need any more disingenuous “I-used-to-think…” posts on how editing is more than running the spellcheck, or how getting 4000 rejection letters can be a confidence builder if you look at it in the right way. I don’t care too much about “getting published,” whatever that means these days. I just want to connect with readers, and I trust my writing to speak for itself. Maybe you’ll like some of it. Inevitably you’ll dislike some of it. Thanks for coming by!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Getsinger permalink
    November 5, 2011 1:38 am

    Dear Strayer,
    You might be just the person to etymologize why the word “plagiarism” (copying someone else’s work) looks so much like the word “plagioclase”. (monoclinic solid solution of sodium to calcium feldspar, aka “the white stuff in granite that isn’t quartz”). I used to tell my geology students that it all has to do with living here on the beach (la plage en francois). See, the beach is slanted downhill toward the ocean, and plagioclase is also slanted with angles near 86 degrees instead of 90 degrees like its potassic relative orthoclase feldspar (aka K-feldspar or “the pink stuff in granite”). That’s slanted as in crooked or bad, so plagiarism is about being slanted or not right, that is, wrong.

    The actual sand on the beach is usually mostly quartz, not feldspar at all. That’s because the feldspar weathers (decays chemically and physically) to clay minerals in clay sizes (less than 1/256 mm), which washes out to sea and settles down as shale (mudrock or pelitic rock), whereas the quartz, without slanted or right-angle cleavage, is harder and more resistant, and ends up undissolved at the end of a downflowing river in sand sized grains (1/16 mm to 2 mm), and settles out at the beach, eventually to make sandstone (psammitic rock). Anyone who has read Five Children and It knows what a Psammead is, so that etymology is a no-brainer.
    From Jenny G., TWS 05.

  2. thomasisaac permalink
    March 25, 2012 12:26 am

    This whole thing is gonna seem kind of tacky, but I looked for a way to e-mail you, and alas… I could not find a way to do it anywhere on your blog.

    In any case, I’ve been reading your blog occasionally since I moved to Vancouver. I had an “interesting” experience here the other day (March 22nd… my birthday, incidentally) that upset me sooooo much that I just want to share it in any way that I can.

    While walking down Seymour street on the evening of my birthday, my attention was caught by the sound of a thud. I looked over to my right to see an older man struggling to get up. His cane was knocked aside, and being the decent human being that I am, I offered to help stand him up. As I started to help him to his feet, I realized he had a serious head injury on the back of his head, and he was bleeding all over my hand. I helped to lay him back down, and called 911.

    With paramedics on the way, I did what I could to stop him from losing too much blood (he was bleeding a lot, and fast). I sacrificed my hoody, which I rolled up behind his head and as I moved him into the recovery position when it appeared that he was going to lose consciousness. The paramedics arrived quickly, and I should hope that he did not lose too much blood with my quick response, although I will not be following up on it in the off-chance that he didn’t survive – I would not want to know about it if that were the case.

    The thing that upsets me more than the situation itself is that no one else helped this poor elderly man (who was 74, and as I gathered, living on the streets). Others who were there when the man first fell over did not offer to help him up. They did not even stop walking to examine the situation. People were walking by and staring as the man was bleeding all over the sidewalk, and people continued to walk on by as I tried to flag them over to assist me while I was on the phone with 911. The one person who did stop to see what was going on did not do anything to help – HOWEVER, I’m glad that at least one person was concerned enough to stop and ask questions!

    This whole situation upsets me so much that I’m sending out e-mails to local blogs and vlogs that I frequent, and will likely write to the papers as well.

    I’m a student of psychology, so I understand the bystander effect. I understand it, but refuse to acknowledge it. The bystander effect is totally a produce of our society’s ignorance, and lack of value in other people’s lives. It is absolutely disgusting that so many people would walk by. I would help anyone I could with a problem. A couple of months ago, I helped a homeless fellow push his cart out of the street where it was stuck on the curb with all of his belongings. A month ago I helped an elderly fellow put his luggage into an elevator.

    That’s just the kind of guy I am. But more than that, that’s the kind of person everyone in my family is. The kind of person so many people in my life are. I would drop whatever I was doing if I saw someone who was struggling in a way that my help could give them a better day. The fact that no one would stop to help this poor man who was bleeding all over the sidewalk, with a serious head injury… Again, it is disgusting. This man who I offered to help before I even knew he had an injury at all! Hell. Some dude and his girlfriend even walked by and just stared at the man with the pool of blood under his head as I tried to wave them over. How SHAMEFUL that someone could walk by something like that with their loved one in tow. Absolutely, shameful….

    I’m not sure exactly what I would hope to achieve by posting this message here, but I feel that the story of what went on a couple of days ago really needs to be heard by others; not just people in my own life. It’s a tragic circumstance, and this man’s story needs to be put out there….

    That’s pretty much the whole thing, but you can get the story as well on my blog, which I have linked with this post….

  3. December 30, 2014 4:37 pm

    Kate, you are great. That’s a poem, and I sure know’em.

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