January 13: Spring 2014 begins!

Today is Monday of Orientation Week, the first official day of classes. So... welcome to Spring Semester 2014! I hope that you had a great winter break and that you will have an exciting semester ahead! For this first week, I have prepared a series of orientation activities to help you get acquainted with the tools and resources you will be using for the class. Please get started on the activities soon because you have some assignments that are already due on Tuesday.

Here is how to get started:

Course websites. You will find all the information you need about the course assignments at the website for the class you are enrolled in. Just click on the website for the course you are enrolled in, and then click on the Week 1 Orientation link to find the list of assignments along with detailed instructions. You will also find a link to the course website in Desire2Learn:
All fifteen weeks of the semester are listed on the homepage of the course website, and you are welcome to work as far ahead as you want. So, if you do have some free time now before the work really begins in your other classes, you can get a good head start on the class!

My Schedule. These online classes are my full-time job, and I work pretty much a standard work week, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 Oklahoma time. You can expect to find me online during those times, right here in my virtual office! During the evenings and weekends, I do check email occasionally, so if you run into a snag or problem, definitely let me know. If it is something urgent, I will get back to you quickly; otherwise, I will get back to you first thing in the morning.

Assignment Stack. Each week there will be something you turn in to me via email, which I will then read and comment on. In the first week, for example, you will turn in a Proofreading Practice assignment. As you turn those assignments in, I list them in the Stack. You can always check the stack to make sure I have received your assignment. If you have turned something in and do not see it listed in the stack, please contact me so that we can track down the missing email!

Questions...? The first week's Orientation activities are designed to introduce you to all the class activities and procedures, so don't worry: everything will become a lot more clear as you work your way through the Orientation assignments. Meanwhile, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the class that are not answered at the course website or here in the daily announcements. 

About These Announcements. At the top of each blog post you'll see the announcements that pertain to the day to day things going on in the class — deadlines, important information for completing assignments, etc. That will always be at the top; then, below, you will see some announcements that are just for fun and exploration. There will be new announcements every day because I know that people are all working on their own schedules, and I want for you to be able to find something new here whenever you happen to check the announcements, no matter what day of the week that might be.

Here are today's items for fun and exploration:

Writing Humor: Let's Eat Grandma. As you'll discover, I'm a big fan of cartoons and other humor about writing and learning, so I thought I would start off the semester with a selection of "Let's Eat Grandma" memes. Here's my favorite; visit the blog post for more Grandma memes. :-)

Words to Watch: Today's words to watch out for are capital and capitol, a pair of sound-alike words that are easy to mix up. For more details, see the blog post. (I'll have some more of these word pairs each week, along with some words that come to English from Greco-Roman mythology and also words that come to us from India.)

Featured Storybook: Living in the Past: Tales of Ancient Vietnam. Each day, I'll feature a student Storybook project, either from the Myth-Folklore class or from the Indian Epics class. At the start of the semester, these will be Storybooks from past classes, like this beautiful Myth-Folklore Storybook based on legends from Vietnam. You'll be learning more about the Storybook projects in the assignments later this week.

FREE Kindle eBook: Fables of La Fontaine translated by F. C. Tilney. Here is a link to the book at Amazon, and this blog post provides additional information about the contents of the book. I'm a big fan of free Kindle books since you can read them on so many different devices, including in your web browser. Today's free book is an English translation of the fables of the great French writer La Fontaine. (As you'll soon learn, I am very much into Aesop's fables!)

Words of Wisdom: Today's proverb poster is Make hay while the sun shines (an English proverb). Details at the Proverb Lab. This proverb is a personal favorite of mine! I'll include a new proverb each day in the announcements. Some may already be familiar to you, but I'm sure at least some of them will be new proverbs you have not heard before!

Ramayana Image: Today's Ramayana image shows Rama, avatar of the god Vishnu and epic hero of the Ramayana. There will be some kind of image from the Ramayana in the class announcements each day; I'm guessing that some of you in the Myth-Folklore class will be intrigued to learn about the Indian epics when you see these fabulous images.

Monday Event on Campus: Not only is today the first day of classes in the classroom, it is also the first day of classes at OU's new virtual classroom, Janux (janux.ou.edu). I'm going to be taking the History of Science class taught by Professor Kerry Magruder! The classes are available to enrolled OU students and also to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Since Kerry Magruder is one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my life, I am going to carve out a few hours each week to take his course. Here is a YouTube video describing the course:

January 13. Each day in the announcements I try to find an "on this day" event to commemorate, and today I want to commemorate the immortal performance of Johnny Cash at Folsom prison on January 13 in 1968, and you've probably heard his signature song, "Folsom Prison Blues." Here is a YouTube video with Johnny Cash performing the song "Folsom Prison Blues" live at another infamous California prison, San Quentin. Those of you in Myth-Folklore will meet up with Johnny Cash again in the "John Henry" unit later this semester!