Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Hi friends. Because of some continuing health problems I'm retiring for good in May. (I semi-retired in 2007 for other reasons and then taught 1-2 classes part-time for several years until recently returning to a full time gig in the south.)

But it's more than 30 years in the classroom, and despite my belief that college has gotten it all wrong, that we are in many ways doing things now that are the opposite of what I loved about the profession in the goon old days, I'm feeling tragically weepy and nostalgic over the whole enterprise.

What a fucking blast it has been! As a trailing spouse I've been able to teach in a dozen institutions in nearly as many states, all kinds of schools, entry level gigs, administrative posts, top ten schools, night school, one year in a prison, and on and on. And always, really, always I found a student or two that made the bullshit all worth it. God it is great when someone gets it, a 19 year old kid, a 50 year old returning student, a veteran, a mom.

And my pals around the country, former colleagues and grad school buddies, and, really, truly, the folks at RYS and CM, what joy they have given me, and comfort, and ribbing, and sometimes plain old mother talk about this job, this life.

I have been grateful for the electronic friendship and collegiality, and for the space to hear other folks talk about the vexing world of the academy. I always found truth here, and humor, and sometimes, just crazzy crazzy times.

I have loved you and it all, the misery, the whole shebang, the delicious and wondrous struggle and triumph.

Yer pal,
Compound Cal


  1. All the best to you, Cal! And yes, when I find someone who really gets it, I feel 10 feet tall.

  2. Unlike the former mods here, I don't know Cal. But his story is legend, and his help to this community (and his own at RYS earlier) cannot be lauded enough. I know Fab and Leslie are always in close contact with him, and I believe Leslie and her husband are real world pals of Cal and (the always praised) Mrs. Cal.

    When I started to work on the blog, his email was the first that came in. If I had questions, let him know. He told me to do as I pleased and not to let the site swamp me. Through his famously (and self-aggrandizing self-promotion!!!) I learned his real world identity and have read three of his books, and, as you can tell by the new entry in the sidebar, just started to listen to his music. It's all full of joy and ache and a deep need to understand the human condition, even if it was only through one flawed man's perspective.

    In my favorite poem of his he writes:

    My life up until this has been modest.

    I have wandered personally and professionally.
    I’ve been a genial companion along life’s road to Judith.
    I’m a father who might have made errors with my son.

    I’ve not left a mark here or anywhere else.
    My hair – but what it used to be – is thin.
    I have at times been kind to old dogs,
    patted the heads of dimwit children.
    But I have no trophies to show you.

    I have never sat down with Peter Jennings or Chris Matthews.
    I have lived marginally and happily.
    But then these things happened.

    It’s as if after spending a lifetime
    wandering an endless and disappearing beach
    holding onto slips of paper, one with a 5 and one with a 6,

    suddenly finding in the sand a bottle containing a note that says “Eleven.”

    I have made sense of these things.
    I am writing it down for you tonight.
    I am Pop Thorndale, no great man.

    I can only imagine the teachers and students you've touched over a long career. I am grateful that I came to know "you," the Wilford Brimley avatar from up above, slouched, smoking, cranky, yet there for us always.

    Be well and thrive. I wish you good health and happiness.

    Compound Crystal

    1. That's lovely. As the daughter of a father who was interviewed by the Peter Jennings/Chris Matthewses of his day, but/and who sometimes didn't have as much time or energy for his family as we would all have liked (and who acknowledged that price, both during and at the end of his life), and as someone who lives "marginally and [mostly] happily" herself, I very much like the image of it all adding up in the end. I will continue my own wandering, encouraged.

    2. Crystal, of all the moderators, in all the bars, in all the poorly lit academic blogs full of whiners, you are my favorite...

      Thanks for this.

  3. He's the only one around here I ever liked. That is all.

    Crazzy love, my brother.


  4. If it were not for Mr. K and Mrs. Cal (still, way better than you), I would scoop you into my ever-lovin' arms, dear, dear friend. When we spoke last month about these matters, I know I made some jokes, made some fun, and generally was overcome with envy. Why couldn't I quit!!!

    Oh dear, that was awful, but of course you know my true heart and know that I love you.

    I cannot wait until we all see each other again. I may even go along golfing with you - my hubby says you have profanities of a variety he's never heard!

    And I cannot wait until we see each other after that, again and again, as miles and time allows. You have been my hero, my friend, my mentor, and even my online misery pal.

    And I have learned more and laughed more in my life because of you.

    Leslie K.

  5. Wait, is the page closing AGAIN?

    See, I can't ever take anything seriously...

    1. ELS, you fat fucker, you've always been my favorite.

  6. Good luck. You are king Kong. Nobody but Yaro has meant more to me, and nobody has done more for these communities.


  7. You are kind and lovely. I don't care what ANYONE else says!


  8. I can only speak for myself but your love of the profession was breathed into everything you did here.

  9. Someday someone will do a study of the pathology of this guy.

    I'll post this knowing full well it will be taken down shortly. But "Cal" is the same guy who has run all of these pages. He's Ben and Leslie and Walter and whoever else. He started Rate My Students and this blog and all the other sad copies. He's a failed and inconsequential instructor at a juco in Arizona, and for reasons too boring to care about he's perpetrated this hoax on some small amount of readers for ten years!?!?! Does that scream mental illness to you? It does to me.

    I even did a linguistic study of postings from several "different" people on this blog proving that one person had written almost all of it, posts and comments together, and it was up online for about a day until he obviously deleted it. I'm sure he lost half of his readers that day once the truth came out.

    My contention is, even though this place is a joke, a completely bogus and juvenile experiment by someone who simply has too much time on his hands, that it has hurt MY profession. Parents or students who might stumble across it get a view of higher education that is 99.9% fabricated by a sad character of a twisted play of his own distorted mind. I've asked, both in these comments and through several emails to these "different" moderators, to shut the website down for that reason. Higher education is serious business, and even though this site only probably reaches 100 people a day or so, it still has some small power to pervert.

    Ridiculous. The next thing will be a story about Cal's death and memorial, which will no doubt be attended by all of his "friends," all fictions, all phantoms, all sad ghosts. I'd go if it were actually happening, and I'd bet I'd be among a very small company.

    I know who this guy is. Do you not hear me? This is not real. The handful of you who actually read this page, don't you feel stupid for being duped all this time? You are as stupid as he is misguided.

    I wash my hands of this place.

    I'm not a robot.

    1. Hiram Hannah from Hamilton OHMarch 9, 2016 at 11:26 AM

      This is my favorite place in the whole wide world.

      Thanks Cal.

      I am not a robot.

    2. Here is the titanic linguistic study that "anonymous" commenters reference. Thank you for the scholarship and all the laughs.

      Mister FixitMarch 28, 2012 at 7:56 AM
      There is nothing BUT heavy handed moderation here. The moderator posts more posts than anyone else - look it up. He capriciously deletes comments he personally doesn't like. Even this week he admitted that he has a trigger finger on delete.

      That's what's wrong with this page. Everything is fine. Weak members get culled when the discourse gets too hot. And that's a problem why?

      StockStalker is correct. He's been targeted several times just because he's not a regular.

      Another thing that is apparent. I'm a linguist (a cunning one at least!), and I tell you that all the "mail" in the post above was written by one person, yes, the moderator. He conspires to create a situation that he thinks shows HIM in the bright light, and "marginalizes" everyone else, especially anyone who defies his leadership of the blog.

      It's disgraceful. I believe the blog is an embarrassment and should be closed down. Anyone who reads it, and we've established long ago that it's a tiny number, knows that the quality of the page is low, that only a few people actually write for it (all of them using multiple logins - against the rules but okay for regulars), and that it exists to exult one person, Fag, no, what is it again, that's right Fab Sun, the Really Gross Moderator.

      Watch how quickly this comment disappears. I'm going to keep posting it all day long, because it's the truth, and those few of you who are reading need to know it.

      Mister Fixit

    3. That whole comment thread is spectacular.

    4. You know, if Cal did concoct the whole RYS/CM/AWC/et al. saga, it would count among the great American epic fictions (albeit a postmodern one with a niche market, but Moby Dick was initially dismissed as a rather long, boring book about whaling, by that guy who'd written that much more entertaining book about Polynesia).

      I dunno. I think I'm real, but if I'm just an emanation of the Great God Cal's imagination, would I know it? Do characters know they're characters? Now I'm confused. Is there a philosopher in the house?

    5. P.S. Of course you know who Cal is. We all do (or can if we care to), seeing that he published a piece on RYS under his real name in the Crampicle. Admittedly I thought his name was a pseudonym the first time I saw it (it sounds like a German Christmas cookie to me, but that just shows how distant my experience is from that of my German immigrant ancestors). It is, however, real, and as others have pointed out, he's published a bunch of stuff (really good stuff, in fact) under it.

      P.P.S. I've said it before and I'll say it again: "juco" is not an insult around here. That's like saying "he was just in the infantry" around a bunch of soldiers. Not going to fly.

    6. Hi Cal,
      That post above, the one that you wrote but where you go by "Anonymous" and just rip into yourself for having fabricated all the posts here, that's just another layer of genius to your grand deception. Kudos!
      Prof Poopiehead

    7. I was writing the same comment!!!

      Thank you Crystal for keeping this place open. And thank you Cal for the mad genius of RYS, which I only recently made my way through. Better health to you!! All things possible, that's what my granny said.

      GOOD LUCK. And I'm not a robot.

    8. Of “Mister Fixit”, Captain Subtext A says:
      I made up a “witty” name and posted something to the site, expecting — nay, believing myself entitled to — Yaro-like acclaim.
      But my post didn’t make me the instant super-hero I think I should be.
      It’s not fair!! I tried soooo haaaaard!!!

      Captain Subtext B says:
      I’m a sad little git who became a teacher because I thought teachers were my friends when I was a student. Realistically, I know that my students don’t care for me, and — if they think of me at all — probably mock me, but dissing somebody else’s work and calling teaching “MY” profession makes me feel better about myself.

    9. Mr. Fixit's linguistic study is scholarship that counts.

  10. You were the person who first welcomed me to this site. Sad, displaced homosexual undergrad that I was. Keep on being awesome.

    Yours In Christ,

    1. Thank you, of all the sad, displaced, homosexual undergrads who frequent this nutty spot, you're my favorite.

  11. Congratulations on retiring in time to enjoy it! And, as they say, thank you for your service.

  12. Ruby from RichmondMarch 9, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    Congratulations on a meaningful career, Cal, and sorry to hear about your health problems. Look me up if you're ever in "Richmond."

    Also, I performed a thorough linguistic analysis of Anonymous's comment above, and I have determined with p < 0.05 that Anonymous is an asshole.

    1. Thank you my, it must be said, have always been my favorite...and one of my favorite students, too, I might add. I'm so proud of all the stuff you've achieved, your family, your career...

      Best wishes...

  13. Blessings...

    With respect,
    Myra Adele Logan

    I'm not a robot, either.

  14. Cal, you are a mentor to all of us. Thanks!

    I hope you won't be missed because I hope you won't be leaving us. Stick around and taunt us about how wonderful retirement is. That's what I'd do, at least.

    1. Ben, you've always been my favorite...

    2. What Ben said...hoping retirement will give you more time to hang around the page to noodge and kibitz.

  15. Best wishes, Cal, in your retirement, and thank you for reminding us of all that is good in this profession (as well as giving us a chance to vent about all that needs to be changed). Given your varied experience, I really think you should become the next Education Secretary, or at least write a book and straighten everybody else out, but I don't want to interfere with your golf schedule. May there be many happy years of golfing, and music-making, and poetry-making, and whatever else makes you happy, ahead. You've earned them.

  16. Cal, whenever I think of you, your mentorship, your friendship, your gluttony, your sloth. I always think of a message you sent to me one day when I was down, facing long odds. You said the thing that got me off my ass and back among the living.

    And so I share that moving and inspirational message with you today.

    Cal, fuck you.


  17. Cal,
    This is my favorite song of yours:
    Eddy and Cindy were a couple of kids from Detroit.
    Eddy played in my band although money was short.
    Cindy was a redhead; didn’t know how to drive.
    Cindy was so high school; it almost hurts me to say.
    We had a little thing, one week, while Eddy was away.
    It was over in a minute. Didn’t even have to hide.
    Eddy had a PA and I had a guitar…
    Cindy worked a bar out by the army base.

    I love you!

  18. Kimmie of the Kensington KimmesMarch 9, 2016 at 3:57 PM

    God I love you Cal...

    Can I be your favorite? Can you tell me to fuck off? It's a weird club, but I'm so glad to be in it...



  19. Cal, We'll miss you. We salute you, and this weird, ever-dying club will never be the same without you.

    Ceci n'est pas un robot.

  20. Congratulations and thanks, Cal.

    Of all my favorites, you’ve always been my favoritest.

  21. Best of all things to you and Mrs. Cal. Thank you for all you've done for us.

    Probably not a robot p<.05

  22. I hate death. Stay alive, Cal. You create beautiful things.

  23. Hold on there, Cal. You keep saying that each of us is your favorite. That can only be true if we are all the same person. Then Anonymous's conspiracy theory is true. Dear God. Do you feel how heart my fast is beating?

    1. You did the Terry P callback. It is all true.

  24. I hope you're only retiring from the classroom and not the studio as well.
    Best wishes.

    I am not a robot.
    I'm Compound Calico!

  25. Best of luck, Cal. We are all in your debt.

  26. So, will you take up growing rutabagas now? Thanks for all your work on the page, it has kept me from losing it completely more often than I like to admit. (TWITCH!!!!!)

    1. P.S. I sometimes wonder whether I am a robot, such as when I use my smartphone to sound many alarms per day to keep me on schedule, but particularly whenever I am so vexed I want to scream, "EXTERMINATE!!!"

    2. Ralph the Rutabaga guy! He died didn't he? Have to look it up.

    3. He did, as shall we all, sooner or later. Please don't misconstrue my meaning: if Cal must stop teaching, I hope he finds something just as good, such as Ralph found with rutabagas. But of course, Ralph didn't quit teaching entirely: reading the page moderated by Cal motivated Ralph to go back into teaching, begging off chores "because I have to."

  27. Have fun in your retirement, Cal. We are all forever in your debt! I hope you keep coming around here sometimes to say hello!!!!!!

  28. I've tried to address these as they come in, but seriously, what lovely notes, both here and through the email today. I am simply putting my health first as this past year has been harder and harder to do my regular work while also balancing a long series of tests to find a path to a higher quality of life than I've had in some time. I am, as always, stabilized in all things by Mrs. Cal, the kindest, most wonderful, most beautiful woman on the planet, and she refuses to let me falter.

    I have been extra good to my students this term, and I've found a new spark for teaching that I wish I could have bottled and drunk years ago when the construct of the academy soured me on ALL parts of the job.

    If it were possible to buy some land near Yaro's in Utah, I would surely do it. But I will leave him his space. I'm sure he's taking the air, and I am eager to do the same.

    But perhaps, like Ralph, I'll be called back for the occasional class or two. That, I think, would suit me, and would not tax me unduly.

    And I'll always check in here, as I love this space and this community.

  29. Cal, thank you for everything! Wishing you a happy retirement and good health.

    I am not Cal. I am not a robot. <3

  30. Here's to your health, Cal!

  31. We'll miss you Cal! It's always been a pleasure to find you here.

  32. Best wishes to you Cal.
    It is encouraging to know that it is, in fact, possible to get out (mostly) alive.

    I was not a robot when I started, but now ...

  33. Dear Cal,

    As a newbie to the profession who stumbled onto RYS so many years ago: Thank you for starting this mad always dying cluster of crazzy.

    I've enjoyed your posts, your joy of life and the inane, and your continuing presence here.

    May retirement be glorious, and know we will always appreciate your appearances here.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not a robot, although I have committed poetry. It's a damn entertaining fiction, if it is one.

    1. Again, thanks to all...what kindness. I should have retired years ago. No, seriously, I should have retired YEARS AGO!

      Madam Librarian, you, truly, forget what I said to all those others on this thread, you are my favorite. I got a little clutch in my throat when I read it.

      Amen, amen, everyone, keep misery alive, and fight the good fight in my stead.

  34. Fair winds. Following seas. To quote you: I hope you get to go do something bad in your car!


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