Monday, April 29, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Light, Camera, Spring!



It's sunny out, and the first morning I've been here to really enjoy spring feeling like spring.  It wasn't quite warm enough for coffee on the deck (though, now that I think about it, with a blanket it probably would have been fine).

I have a small patch of front yard near my mailbox where I've put crocus bulbs in a couple of years ago.  And finally, they've totally taken off.  (I should probably dig them up this fall and move some around so they don't get over crowded.)

This spot gets morning light and light through most of the day, so it's early for my yard, once the snow starts melting.

Today, because I was out and about in midmorning, the sun was playing on the colors really beautifully. 

So I took a bunch of pictures in various ways trying to capture some of the ways the light was coming through and the shadows were working.



I was out there, lying on the ground, taking photos and a guy jogged by on the other side of the street (running against traffic, except it's a cul-de-sac, so there isn't much traffic).  I didn't even realize he was there until he'd gone by, so I didn't say anything.

And then he circled around, and came back on my side, and I said hello, and he practically jumped out of his skin.  I guess he'd been focusing on his running and hadn't noticed me lying there when he ran by on the other side, and then I was sort of behind a plant and the mailbox as he came on my side.

So these are my favorite of the morning pictures.  I like the first one because it captures a sort of glow look (it's a bit more in the shade), and you can also see some of the veins in the petals.

The second one is more because it's a beautiful flower, with lovely darker coloring coming up.

The third one I like for the way you can see shadows of the stamen in one flower, and the stamens of other flowers.

The fourth one (just above and to the left), I like because the pollen on the inside petals really appeals to me.  It's like delight in disarray, perhaps, except the flower version.

And this final one just seems like such a perfect flower, and a perfect show of threes and six in the flower.

So finally, it seems to be spring, and all I want to do is go play in the garden or (when it's a bit warmer) take a bike ride.  But what I really, really need to do is grade!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Grading by the Inch

I wasn't behind, but now I have two big stacks of papers to grade.

And a thesis prospectus to work on.

And another student asked me to read and give him some feedback on a project.

I don't know which way is up, but since time is linear, things will move along and end at some point.  Hopefully, by that point, I will have turned in all the grades for the semester. 

But for now, well, put me at overwhelmed.

And secretly laughing at someone here who's a bit of a jerk for being a jerk and creepy.  They're separate, jerk and creepy, but this person is managing both.

I heard another person in a meeting today say these improbable words, "I'm looking forward to assessment."

I was rude enough to actually comment on the uniqueness of the statement aloud during the meeting.  It's obvious that I'm not administrative material, I think.

I was in another meeting this week where an administrator actually acknowledged that our [campus group] had been forcing faculty to collect a huge bunch of data and had never used it and had no intention of ever using it.  The administrator didn't, however, acknowledge that the collection of all that data might have been a waste of faculty time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

SD




Let it Rain

We have a lot of activity around here for the next several weeks.  Everything pretty much happens at once.

On Tuesday, there was a really great poetry reading.  There was another poetry reading yesterday, and another after, and also a superb concert (which is what I attended), and then another concert and a play.  And that's only the things I know about.

There's another concert today, which promises to be great.  And then tomorrow, I have dinner and theater plans with some friends.

So if I go to the concert tonight, that will be four nights out this week.  That's fine for some folks, but I'm not sure I'm going tonight. 

Next week looks just as busy, with campus research day, and all sorts of other activities.

And naturally, for all of these activities, folks expect faculty to go be supportive (or to participate in other ways).  And they're all on top of all the other things, and end of the semester grading.

Can you tell I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed?

It's supposed to get warmer, significantly warmer, this weekend.  I'm hopeful. 

Last night, after the concert, I was walking to my car in a light rain, and it smelled like a spring rain, with the fresh dirt smell and all.  It's the first spring rain smell I've had so far this year, and it was very good. 

You know how dogs will dig into a roll with their shoulders?  I sort of wanted to do that, but I didn't want to be went and muddy, so I didn't.  But the smell was so appealing!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Looking for Brilliance, CT Edition

I'm teaching "Sir Thopas" for the first time in either a long time, or a really long time, I think.  Long enough, or poorly enough, that I can't find my usual folder of notes, so I've been spending time today prepping, reading up, and so on.

It seems like there's a lot to pack into 50 minutes from a very short text, no?

So, what would you absolutely want to include?  What should I just not dare forget?

How do I get across to my students who haven't read tons of romances how absolutely brilliant this is?

And soon, I'll be teaching the "Canon's Yeoman's Tale," and I'm in the same boat, except it's a lot longer.

Suggestions?

(I think I end up cutting stuff from the CT class for time; but I put these in this time, and especially the CYT seems really important to me, or at least it did when I made up the syllabus.  Not being a real medievalist, I sometimes wonder if I've made the best choices in what to teach over the semester; maybe I'll try to go faster over the KT next time?  It seems like I take a good long time trying to get them to read and get the language and such, and it seems necessary.  Would any real medievalist be up for sharing their CT calendar/syllabus, please?)

I'm at that point in the spring and the semester when it feels like I should be desperate, but somehow I'm not.  I'm reasonably caught up on grading, and while spring seems especially slow, I'm less cranky about it than a lot of folks I know.  But I'm sort of plugging away at work and life, and doing some birding more than most springs, but I don't have much to write about that's really exciting.

I did see my first ever Yellow-rumped Warbler in my yard (I've seen them elsewhere, just not in my yard), at my suet feeder.  I'm guessing it was hungry and that was better than nothing.  I saw it for a short bit the other day, long enough that using my binoculars (pretty much always at the ready next to this window) to identifying a relatively common, distinct bird was good, not long enough to dig out the camera and take a picture.  But I haven't seen it since.

I also saw the first Brown-headed Cowbird of the year in the yard this morning.  So I do think spring is on the way.

But there's not much else to say about it that isn't complaining about the cold.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crocuses are Tough

It's the first crocus of the season, blooming in my yard!  You can see not far behind it, just out of the little bit of snow, the daffodils coming up.

There are other crocuses up, but they aren't blooming yet, just this extra tough one that came up through the snow.

I was out walking around after going to a pow wow and saw a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, the first I've seen this year.




My very cute houseguest is back for a short visit.  So cute!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Hopes Eternal

Here's the greenspace behind my house, taken from inside, because I sure as heck didn't want to go outside yet.



I'm so ready for a bit of warmth.

(The good news is this will probably melt soon.  The bad news is this will probably melt soon, and a lot of rivers are already at or near flood stages.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Life After Tenure

Dr. Crazy over at Reassigned Time 2.0 has a fine post up about life after tenure.  It's really smart (as usual) and also gives a strong sense of some of the things people should know and look forward to (with longing or dread).

I think her points about feeling pressure to contribute to the community (rather than trying to establish oneself) and about feeling pulled by different demands so that she has less time/energy to work with and teach her own ideas/research are especially useful.

Recently, too, Dr. Virago over at Quod She 2.0 had a post about the difficulties of feeling like she was in a "mid-career rut."

Both of these posts really resonated with me.

I'd add to Dr. Crazy's post about being pulled by different demands that one of the biggest demands I feel is the work on department and university personnel committees and such.  Those tasks seem to take up a huge amount of time, and while they can feel rewarding, they can also feel unrewarded, if that makes sense. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled grading.

Disconnected

I've felt a bit disconnected of late.

The day of the Boston Marathon, I didn't hear about the bombings until late.  I was in the office, and no one mentioned them.  That either means that no one knew, because we were all busy at work and not watching TV or whatever, or no one told me for whatever reason.

That's sometimes how it feels here, not only here in my office, my little silo room, but here in the midwest, where the happenings on either coast sometimes seem very far away.  But then, happenings over in the Fort also seem far away.

It's like here in the middle of the country, we're actually on the margins of the places that really matter to most of the people in the country.


Anyway, a friend of mine recently showed me this poem by Tom Wayman called "Did I Miss Anything," and it's wonderful, and I want to put it on my syllabus for next year.  You should go read it immediately.


On a blog I read sometimes,  young person is complaining about looking at jobs and not feeling like any of them are totally inspiring and wonderful, and I feel impatient, beca

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cat Blogging

You know how some people post endless pictures of their cats and how there are endless memes and such devoted to this or that cat approach or whatever?

I thnk William Baldwin was probably several centuries before his time.  He'd totally have a best seller now with Beware the Cat

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Birding on Saturday

Canvasbacks, Canada Goose, Ruddy Duck
I joined an effbee page for state bird stuff; most of the posts are from another area of the state, alas.  But the other day, there was one from right near, with some cool birds.  So I asked for directions, got them, and went out today with a friend.  (Yay for a friend who will go running around to look at birds!  Life is better with friends.)

Behind the big Canada Goose, there's a little Ruddy Duck with a white blotch on his face and a blueish beak.  How cool is that?  And Canvasbacks!  (There may also be Redheads around; I'm not sure.)

Horned Lark
We saw this little guy hanging out near a Killdeer (the picture of which is too blurry for even me to post).  So lovely!














Snow Bunting
The Snow Buntings were our main attraction, and we finally found them.  They're surprisingly tiny. 

And look, mostly white birds against mostly white snow and some muck.  Yep!











Lapland Longspur

And the Lapland Longspurs were our second main attraction!  What lovely birds.

It wasn't badly cold this morning when I was digging out the driveway.  It was warm enough that I took off my coat, even.  But out looking for the birds, holy cow!  That was COLD!

So then we went and had hot Thai curry for lunch.  And lived happily ever after.  Or at least until dinner, when I have to forage again.  (In the refrigerator, not outside!)

Friday, April 12, 2013

And Just in Time: It's Friday!

I don't greatly mind a student asking if s/he can turn something in late.  Some assignments I accept late (with a penalty), but some I don't.  Journals and such, where they have many opportunities over the semester to do the assignments, I don't accept late.  It says as much in the syllabus.

But still, I don't really mind a student asking, even if after the fact.  I point to the syllabus and say no.  And the second time, the same. 

I've got a student who has asked three times by email and twice in person, and now I'm getting to the point where I do mind.

Adding to the frustration, the student just doesn't seem to comprehend how deep into failing s/he is, even though I handed out a sheet for each student and went over in class how to do the math.  But oh, the student was absent that day, and when s/he finally reappeared and I gave him/her the sheet, s/he didn't bother to do the math. 

We did the math together today.  That one journal won't save the grade.  Unfortunately, the student still seems to think that getting partial credit on that one journal will bring things up from F-land to passing. 

So, yes, I'm very ready for Friday.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Memory?

You know how sometimes you respond to a post on someone else's blog, and then you want to go back and see what else other people have had to say in that thread, because it was lively and interesting?

But then it's been maybe a few days, maybe a week, and you remember about it, and think about going back.

But you can't remember whose blog it was on.

Like that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

First Semester, Second Semester

I teach a lot of first year students, pretty much every year, and in fall, I take a bit of time to talk to them about being students, to make my expectations extra clear, and so on.

I guess I'm not that extra clear in the spring semester.

I've had a number of students this spring who've revealed to me--in those meetings you have after they realize that they've missed impressive chunks of class and haven't turned in work and are failing--that this is their first semester of college and they were unprepared, not well counseled, and really didn't know what to expect.

I think I've got a lot more new mid-year starting students this year than I remember from before, perhaps?

But it's definitely a problem for these students.  There's been some real gap.

One part of the gap is that students who start mid-year may already be a step behind just starting.  If they aren't transfers, then something happened (or didn't happen) that meant they didn't start at the usual time.  My guess is that something is related to their unpreparedness or lack of cultural knowledge about college stuff.  Maybe they didn't really understand how admissions work in many colleges and so didn't get their stuff in on time.  Or maybe they didn't have the finances together to pay the fall deposit.  Or whatever.

My guess is that a lot of the stuff that may cause these students to be a step behind are first generation student issues?

My second guess is that our admissions folks were slightly under their enrollment goals for fall, and so admitted more new students in spring than they usually do.  Or they admitted the same number, but a lot ended up in my class somehow?

Another part of the gap seems to be with new student advising at mid-year.  In fall, there are loads of meetings and activities aimed at getting new students adjusted to being new students and informed about resources on campus.  But we don't seem to have many of those same meetings and activities in spring, and what we have might not seem important to students who are a step behind just starting off.

The third part of the gap seems to be that I didn't do (and probably haven't generally) as much to help students understand my expectations.  I think typically I've expected that students have learned from their first semester in college and they don't need so much to hear my underlying expectations.  I don't think I've changed or dropped a lot of this from one spring to another.  It's more that I haven't seen so many new spring students, I think.  I'm not sure.  (And by my expectations, I don't mean what I'm expecting for a given assignment, but that I expect students to do 2-3 hours or work outside of class for every hour in class, and that I expect students to be in class, on time, even though I don't "count" attendance as part of the grade, and that I expect students to do their work and keep track of it when I hand it back, and so on.)

I don't think there's an easy way for me to look up when students are starting at the university, and I haven't made a habit of looking for that information.  I also haven't asked students.  I suppose I might start asking in spring, though that seems a little odd, doesn't it?  (I might couch it as something like "How was your fall semester?")

I think a way larger percentage of my first year writing students will fail this class than usual, and I feel partly responsible because I didn't do as much as I usually do in fall to help them with expectations.

Have you folks ever noticed this sort of phenomenon?  What to do?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Spring Birds!

It's that time of year again, the time when I've seen Tundra Swans out in a wet area in a big field near a town near here.  (It looks like I first posted pictures of these swans at this area in March 2010, and then again in April 2011

It was raining all morning, but I had no classes and no meetings, and it's supposed to snow again soon, so I decided to live the wild life (get it?  HAH!) and go see if the swans were there.  And they were!

Tundra Swans!
I drove out, and they were mostly in the field itself, rather than in the water.  And it was rainy, and I didn't want to get my camera wet, and I put on my doubler, which means I have to auto-focus myself, which is both slow and inexact, especially if I'm trying not to get wet, so this isn't the greatest picture in the world.  The cool thing about this picture, I think, is that you can actually see the yellow above the beak on the nearer bird's face.  I don't think any of my other pictures ever captured that.


I didn't stay long because of the rain, but I found another place with more swans (which is actually where this picture's from), across the highway and on a mud road.  And then I saw an eagle, but it was uncooperative and took off as I stopped to take a picture.

Red Winged Blackbird
I also saw another sign that spring's on it's way, red winged blackbirds, all staking out their space, trying to look hot and sexy for the females.











Having had success with the swans, I decided to go have a look at some of the biking roads, just to check out how they look (potholes and also gravel being my concerns).


Hooded Mergansers
And there, in a pond I ride by and where I've never seen ducks before, I saw my first really clear Hooded Mergansers in breeding plumage!   (I've thought I've seen them before, but never this sure or well.)

They're eye stopping, for me.  (I guess wood ducks are even cooler, so maybe someday for them.)

Blue-winged Teal
I also saw my first Blue-winged Teal!  I really appreciate when ducks are cooperative and show clear markings, and these guys really do.  The big markers are that white stripe on the face (smaller, but still visible on the female), the white hip patch, the darkish head, and the beautiful brown sides. 

Aren't these beautiful?  I took about a dozen pictures in the rain, but this is the only one that came out close to decent.




Do you notice how these pictures seem to show two male ducks hanging out with one female?  I guess it's that time of year for ducks. 

The American Goldfinches in my yard are quite suddenly sporting almost full breeding plumage, only the bright yellow still looks a bit dingy in patches, but the black head patch is now looking very sharp.  And there are robins in my yard again.

So maybe it is spring after all?

I'm sometimes fascinated by trying to figure out spring.  Last year, I posted about full blown (literally!) crocuses in mid march.  In 2010, I showed daffodils in early April and Crocuses in late March.

In 2009, it looks like I had crocuses up by April 16, which seems likely this year, too.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

High School Chaucer

My Chaucer students are doing stepping stone assignments for their research project, which is basically a lit review about some topic or question to do with Chaucer.  So I've been reading their reports on what they've been reading, and also reading some of the articles they've been finding.  It's pretty interesting, to be honest.  And it's certainly helping me catch up a bit on the Chaucer lit.

Several of the students are education students, and a few of them are interested in how Chaucer's being taught in secondary schools. 

I, too, am getting a sense from these articles of how people are teaching Chaucer, and it seems cointerintuitive to me.

Mostly, it seems from the articles I'm reading, high schools are doing projects on the various pilgrims, perhaps also reading the General Prologue. 

I think the General Prologue is a pretty amazing piece of writing, but the amazingness isn't readily apparent unless you've read a little estates satire and probably some historical contexts, especially about religious folks.

So I'm wondering what other folks have either experienced or done with Chaucer in high schools (I never read Chaucer in high school, not a word)?

***

I've never taught high school, but I think if I wanted to do a Chaucer unit in a high school class, I'd teach one of the tales, and then only teach the description in the general prologue of the pilgrim teller.  And the tale I'd teach?  Totally The Franklin's Tale.

And I have to admit, I'd teach Gawain and the Green Knight rather than most of the other tales.  Then, um, probably the Pardoner's Tale.  Or the Summoner's Tale, or the Friar's Tale.  (I guess I'm confessing that I'd try to avoid some of the more sexally disturbing tales.)

Friday, April 05, 2013

Begin Again

There's another new article on Slate about how one shouldn't go to grad school.  Despite what the author, Rebecca Schuman, says about the "boom" in jobs in the late 1990s, as a survivor of that time, I'd like to say that things were bad then.  They're worse now, with the recession and all, but they were plenty bad then.

It's like every year someone new realizes for the first time that the job market for humanities sucks, and they think because they've just noticed it that the suckage started recently.  It didn't.

Yes, grad school is hard, and the rewards uncertain and often not nearly enough to make up for the opportunity cost.  Don't go.

Schuman builds off a nice analogy with smoking when she notes "In 2005 when I began my own Ph.D., I should have known better, but I didn’t. Now that you know better, will you listen? Or will you think that somehow you can beat odds that would be ludicrous in any other context?"

Yes, she in effect says, we all know smoking is dangerous, and we should know better than to do it, yet people still smoke.  And people should know better than to go to grad school in the humanities, but people still do it.

I'm not actually sure most of my students have heard anything about the job market or grad school in the humanities, though.  Most of them don't come from academic backgrounds or have much experience with academics until they get here.  About 40-50 percent of our students are first generation college students.   They don't know about academic stuff until and unless someone teaches them, pretty much.   I don't push grad school, but when a student asks, I try to be honest about the difficulty and the potential rewards, and about their potential.  (Usually, the students who talk to me about it are excellent students and fine people, so I get to tell them that even as I warn them.)

Three things about Schuman's article stood out to me, one only tangentially.

The more important was the dig at "satellite campuses of Midwestern or Southern universities of which you have never heard."  Yes, here I am, at a regional midwestern school, right in the middle of the target of scorn.  I am indeed sometimes frustrated at living in the land of long winters and at the distance it takes to go pretty much anywhere.  But there's no need to diss us from the privileges of Vassar, NYU, or even Irvine (See Note).   If you've never heard of us, perhaps you need to get out more and take that responsibility yourself?  There are these whole parts of the country that aren't just for flying over.  (Maybe, though, that attitude accounts for her sense that she "should have known better," and my sense that my students don't just know, about the difficulties of the phud market in the humanities?) 

Which brings me to the digs at theory.   Yes, it's specialized language.  So is medical language, and the language of physics.  We use technical language to talk about sprezzatura and metonymy, why shouldn't we use technical language to talk about difficult concepts such as deconstruction or differance?  (And by the by, why would someone choose to go to a phud program at Irvine [or Duke, for that matter] if you don't find theory interesting and exciting?  Okay, I'm assuming that the strengths in Irvine's English and Comparative Literature area also strengths in other areas.  Maybe I shouldn't.  Still, there are some darned smart people there.  Cough *Julia Lupton* Cough)  

Now for the tangential amusement.  Schuman's article links to another recent Slate article, this one by Ron Rosenbaum (who writes, we learn, about Shakespeare).  Like Schuman, Rosenbaum, too, argues that folks shouldn't go to grad school, especially not in English.  Except he relates his decision to leave his grad program in English at Yale in 1969.

If you're (as I am) even the slightest bit aware of which Shakespeare folks studied where, then Yale in the late 1960s is one of those places you're aware of for the impressive scholars who came out of that program.  (I'm not saying they're all perfect, by any means, but I can name some pretty darned smart scholars who did phuds there in the late 1960s, and they're an impressive set.)

So, yes, the job market sucks.  There's a crisis in education.  In other news, war is hell.  Each of these seems to need rediscovery often, alas.


Note.  Schuman provides a link to her dissertation.  I didn't go searching.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Ride!

First (outdoors) ride of the year!

My rear got wet, so did my feet a bit (from the spray), but it was GREAT!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

News from the Professing Front

I went to an awards thing yesterday because one of my students had one an award, and so I was sort of obligated to go.  And I was feeling sort of resentful about it because it's two hours out of the day after an otherwise already full day.

And then I got there, and sat with a colleague and an advisee of mine who also won a prize, and best of all, the advisee's family, dad, grandfather, sibling, and partner.  And it was just delightful how completely proud the dad was, and how the grandfather was close to tears when she accepted her award and spoke about how her project was inspired by her family.  It didn't take long with these folks to change my mood much for the better.

I was proud of my own student, too, and I think I did an okay job explaining her project and the award.  (It wasn't the easiest project from my end, but she really came through with it.)

***

Two of my other students got projects accepted to the student research day presentations.  I'm happy for them, but secretly also thinking about my responsibility to go to another activity.

***

I got several bits of good news the other day, of import mostly to myself, I think.  I had my eyes checked, and they are healthy.  But, I also asked about whether I would be a candidate for Lasik, and the optometrist almost laughed in my face.  She didn't, though, and kindly explained that Lasik is most effective when someone's eye prescription is no more than a minus five.  Mine are around minus ten.  So I guess that's a hard decision I won't have to make.  (I've hesitated totally about the idea of eye surgery, but I was beginning to think that it would be really amazing to go camping and not worry about dealing with contact lenses and also be able to see the stars without then taking my contacts or glasses off.)  Still, I'm stressy about my eyes, and having a positive report on eye health is really great news for me.

My bike is back from the shop where it got its spring tune up, but I haven't gotten out on a ride yet.  It's cold, and there's this job thing, and the awards thing, and so on.  But soon, I hope.

***

I can report that our department search(es) was/were successful, and that we'll have a/some fine new colleague(s) joining our department in the fall.

***

There's this person I know, not really well, but we have contact sometimes in various ways.  The thing is, I keep hearing/reading X complaining about this one sort of problem, and then three months later, I hear/read X complaining about this same sort of problem in a different context, and on and on, for a while now.  And I wonder, hmmm, could it be that X is somehow the source of this sort of problem? 

And then I immediately wonder if I do the same thing myself, complain again and again about a problem and not see that I pretty much bring it on myself?  (I know I've done it in the past, in a pretty serious way.  But I hope I've grown in awareness.)

(Okay, true confession here: I still procrastinate about grading more than I should.  I should have gotten over that by now, right?  Yeah.  Like that.)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Voting Strategy?

There are a couple of local elections that allow multiple votes because they're for seats on this or that committee or board. 

Let's imagine there are three open seats, and everyone gets to vote for three seats.

One of my colleagues suggested that it would be best to vote for just the one person you most wanted, and because there would be fewer votes cast, then that would mean the one vote would be more important.

On the other hand, I thought that I should vote for the three I want, since they're not so much in competition with each other (someone who votes for a candidate with known views is also likely to vote for a candidate with similar views, no?) as with other folks.  If enough of us vote for the same three like-minded candidates, then the committee is more likely to move in that direction over all.

And since I can only vote once for each person, the person I most want has my one vote and can't have a second one from me.

I guess the big thing is, I voted.  I was #15 in my voting area, and I went mid-morning, so I suspect my vote is important.

Good luck to my candidates!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Local Politics

We have an election coming up.  It's off-season for elections, with none of the biggest offices being contested, but there are important local offices being contested.

And since I'm registered with a party, and since I vote in pretty much all the elections, I'm on the target lists for my party.  Over the weekend, I had a visit from a door to door person (canvasser?), encouraging me to vote on Tuesday and offering me information about the party's candidates.  I was glad to see her, and we had a nice chat. 

This evening, one of the candidates was going door to door.  I was happy to meet him, and I have to say, it still blows me away that candidates walk door to door and talk to people in the community.  It's not something I can imagine from the larger cities and suburbs I've lived in.  (He also had voter information about some of the other candidates, all of whom, I gather, are mutually supportive.)

I guess in off-seasons elections, especially in a smaller community, getting out a few more voters can make a big difference.