Friday, December 23, 2005

Grading avoidance

Yes, I've been avoiding grading. I've taken procrastination to a high art form. I've written and rewritten blog posts, read the instructions on my vcr, taken my car to get oiled/lubed/washed, played a computer game, more or less planned a completely unplanned trip for over New Year's, and basically managed to waste a heck of a lot of time.

Some papers are a real pleasure to grade, but they're still an effort, and still take a lot of time, especially when they're research papers or graduate papers and I have to try to say something useful or helpful in response. But lousy papers make me want to play Gloucester, except I think my Mad Tom would gladly walk me to a real cliff and push me over. I can only hope.

What have I learned from all my procrastination, you ask? I've learned that there are things on the internet that I never wanted to know about. And I'm not even talking about various efforts at photographic or textual pruriency. I'm talking about basic life stuff.

First, I discovered that the site meter things can tell you stuff about where your readership is, sort of. (It's vague enough that even I don't feel spied on, but I do have my ultra special aluminum foil hat on today anyways.) Most fascinatingly, it can tell you (sometimes) how people find a site, that is, which pages "refer" them.

When I look at my own site, some of the referral pages make no sense: a soccer site, for example, in what seems to be Portuguese. Others make perfect sense; I have New Kid to thank for many, it appears. (Thanks, NK.) Some of my referrals are from searches: someone out there's looking for information on St. Crispin, and they get me. (I hope you're citing, Shakespeare students!) My most popular referrals seem to come from searches for information on letters of recommendation (and by "most popular" I don't mean wildly popular, just two or three lately).

And a few are just a bit odd. I got a referral from a search for "pleasure rape" and one for "legal prostitution." I'm guessing the searchers were disappointed to find stuff on The Rape of Lucrece and questions about the economics of medieval prostitution in England.

Armed, then, with my new found knowledge, and bored of looking at my own referrals, I decided to look at referrals for some blogs I read, especially the searches people do that land them on that blog. And that's when things get really disturbing. Not, "oh, look, there's some guy trying to write a last minute Shakespeare paper and he thinks he's going to find something useful on the internet" disturbing. More disturbing in that "why are there 12 recipes to reduce breast pain in this early modern recipe book?" way, except it's modern and on the internet and stuff.

The good thing is that those papers I have to grade look a lot more attractive right now.

PS. The spell check on Blogspot wants to replace "Lucrece" with "licorice."

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