The Crotchety Old Man

Nov 12, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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No Time for Writing

There’s more to being an author than writing stories. Making readers aware of new releases is a big part of the job. “Managing the brand” across numerous social media platforms is another requirement. A boss would tell me I need to do better, or else. She’d be right too. The marketing part has always been a challenge. I put a lot of effort into promoting new releases then do no more than my weekly blog post. My writing career is on hold. I haven’t added a word to Cold Revenge (the fourth Philip Potter story and my current work in progress) since August. A blog post every week is about all I can manage — if that. I say a …

Nov 05, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Crotchety’s Difficult Exams

The verdict is in. After three tests, even students who are doing well in my class agree: Mr. Rupured’s exams are REALLY hard. Well I’ll be damned. Some would take pride in the reputation. For a different course, I might too, but this class is not supposed to be difficult. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bunny either. The content is easy to understand (says the professor), but students have to do the work. The final grade is based on assignments (20%), four exams (50%) a comprehensive final (20%) and attendance (10%). The class (Consumers in Society) is a broad overview of the field of consumer economics. It’s the only 1000-level (freshmen) class our department offers.  The class isn’t …

Oct 29, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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A Winter Garden

Mild winters are one of my favorite things about living in the Deep South. Blizzards and subzero temperatures are extremely rare, and cold spells never last for more than a few days. Clear, sunny skies and highs well above freezing are the norm. In Kentucky, hard freezes in mid-to-late October pretty much put an end to the garden. November, December, and January were dedicated to plotting and scheming for the coming season. With few exceptions, nothing blooms until the early season bulbs come up in late January and early February. The growing season in Athens is much longer. Something is blooming just about all year. Camellias carry much of the load from November to March, with numerous others contributing for a …

Oct 22, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Countdown to Finals

My first semester teaching a college course in more than thirty years is rapidly drawing to a close. The weeks since school started have flown by. The last day of class will be here in no time. The teaching I’ve done for more than thirty years is dramatically different from teaching a college course. Participation in the workshops I’ve taught in the past is voluntary. There are no grades, and I rarely see anyone twice or for longer than a few hours. Seeing the same students every Tuesday and Thursday for 15 weeks is a nice change. I look forward to each and every class. A few of my 46 students show up only on test days — if then — …

Oct 15, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Gaydom’s Golden Age

Never has there been a better time to be a gay man in America. Well into the 1960s, homosexuality was a sin, a mental illness, and a crime. Police routinely raided gay bars and often published names in the local newspaper of anyone arrested. Gay liberation has been one of many fronts in the decades-long fight for equal rights. We’ve come a long way in my life time. Police stopped raiding bars (mostly) in the early 1970s but continued to publish names of men arrested in sting operations. Local gay bars became a safe place to meet other gay men. By 1979 when I exploded out of the closet, Lexington’s gay bar was packed six nights a week.  The crowd …

Oct 08, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Grateful

Floods, fires, tornadoes, terminal illnesses, and other ugly events have recently impacted the lives of more than a few dear friends. My heart goes out to them. Their misfortune reminds me  just how lucky I am. Yeah. I said lucky. So I’m slowly going blind, recently lost someone very close to me, and am dealing with a diabetic chihuahua. There are far worse things. So much good luck has fallen my way I consider my life to be charmed. Sure, I’ve worked hard, but — subject to change without notice — bad luck has mostly passed me by. Any adversity in my life has largely been the result of my bad choices. I hit my low in the early 1980s. After …

Sep 17, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Orchid Redux

Since purchasing the first in 2012, my orchid collection has grown. I’ve bought a few. Friends have given me orchids they gave up on too. The result is a kitchen table overflowing with them. I blogged about my success with orchids late last year. You can see that post here. It even has pictures! Bragging is asking for trouble. Problems appeared almost right away. In addition to the wrinkled leaves I’d seen in the past, leaves on a few plants had turned black in the center. Root rot may have been the cause. Inconsistent watering may also have played a role. On rainy days I’ll sometimes drag all my plants outside. They may not care, but I feel like the fresh …

Sep 11, 2018
By Michael Rupured

Crotchety in the Classroom

Everyone I know has heard all about the class I’m teaching. My colleagues — most of whom have taught for years — know as much about my class as their own. I’m guessing they find my enthusiasm more amusing than tiresome — for now, anyway. I’m grateful for heir sage advice and helpful suggestions. I glanced over the required text before agreeing to teach the course and used the table of contents to create the syllabus. I never got around to reading the text before school started. The publisher provided presentations for every chapter. Except for the teaching, my work was done. [Pauses until experienced teachers all over the world stop laughing.] Sticking to the script doesn’t work. Many of …

Sep 03, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Southern Heritage

I grew up in Kentucky and have lived in Georgia for twenty years. My ancestors have lived in the South for centuries. By any standard, I am a a bona fide Southerner. Pride for our Southern heritage is universal in my family, but stories about the Civil War weren’t part of my upbringing. I heard we’re kin to Robert E. Lee and John Wilkes Booth, but nobody in the family has any old photographs, letters from the battlefield, or other Civil War memorabilia. My DNA results shattered the myths I’d believed all my life. We are not related to Lee or Booth, and records linked to my family tree reveal ancestors who fought for the Union, but none who sided …

Aug 27, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Family Tree

Several years ago I joined Ancestry.com, and for months clicked on leaves like they were going out of style. My mistake was accepting as gospel every tidbit of information I found. The resulting family tree dates back a thousand years, but is too riddled with errors, duplicates, and other problems to be believed. I learned a lot about my family, but my research raised more questions than it answered. Two branches came to an abrupt end — I never found my mother’s maternal grandfather or my father’s paternal grandfather. Missing two of eight great-grandparents leaves huge bare spots in the tree. In January I sent some spit to Ancestry DNA for analysis. Found out weeks later the sample didn’t work …

Aug 20, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Teaching without Fear

When I taught class in grad school, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I outlined the text, read the outline to my students, and lived in fear they’d discover how little I knew. Somehow, I pulled it off. Thirty-plus years of experience has made me a better teacher. The kind of teaching I’ve been doing is different, but teaching is teaching. To prepare for the first* class I’ve taught since grad school, I spent the summer going over the required textbook. Two weeks before school started, I found out the textbook I’d planned the course around was no longer in print. Fortunately, the tables of contents for the 15th and 17th editions are identical. Shew. Switching …

Aug 13, 2018
By Michael Rupured

Dinner Time

After the ex and I split up, we still got together for dinner at least three or four nights a week — almost every night the last two years of his life. He did nearly all the cooking. His menu selections weren’t always the healthiest and he had a (delightful) bad habit of baking sweets after dinner, but I never complained. Beggars can’t be choosers. He enjoyed cooking (usually), put a lot of effort into it, and took pride in every dish. I cooked occasionally, but we both preferred his cooking over mine. You would too. In the early weeks of fending for myself, I relied heavily on familiar fast and easy options. Then I tried a lot of frozen, ready-made …

Aug 06, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Novel Experience

Lots of people tell me they hope to write a book. Many say they’ve written the first few chapters — often for several stories. Starting a book is easy. Finishing is the hard part. Writing a novel is a HUGE challenge — especially the first time around. Getting to “the end” takes hours and hours of work over many weeks, months, or even years. Whether the finished product gets published or not, devoting that much time to something is a sure way to get better at it. Going through the publication process is also a learning experience. Three different editors go over every story with a fine-toothed comb. I always learn from their comments, questions, and suggestions. Reviews are helpful …

Jul 30, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Shorter Summers

Students in one Georgia county returned to school this past Friday. The last day of class for them was June 25th. Hope they enjoyed their summer — all five weeks of it. Why bother starting on a Friday? Returning to school on a Monday or Tuesday makes for too long of a first week back. Wednesday I can understand, or even Thursday. Maybe I’m missing something, but starting on Friday is crazy. Like them or not, the research on summer breaks is clear. The longer the break, the more kids forget. Summer learning loss negatively impacts success in school, college, and life — especially for students from low-income households. Shorter breaks are the obvious solution. Smarter summers are another option. Keeping …

Jul 23, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Next Project

A lot of thought goes into selecting my next project. Writing a novel is a HUGE commitment. Unless I’m head over heels in love with the idea, I’ll never make it to “the end” of the story. No amount of love can save a flawed idea. I’ve wasted hours and hours trying. All I got in return was heartbreak and a folder of abandoned manuscripts. Each abandoned manuscript suffers from the same problem: A tragic lack of understanding about the role of the main character. I’ve written extensively about figuring this out in previous posts, so I’ll spare you the details here.The point is, I finally got it. #SlowLearner Portions of The Case of the Missing Drag Queen were salvaged from …