Dry Food

A kitchen countertop.
A kitchen countertop. In the foreground, lidded jars and assorted containers filled with dried sprouts, banana chips, apples, and pears. In the background, two half gallon jars with fire cider infusions and a half gallon jar of horseradish jicama slaw several days into a lactoferment.

Login chances entry, entry chances rekicked essayisms: login chances rekicked essayisms. Never will be what it was back when.

Reading René Redzepi Journal (generously lent by A.S.) with a green cover and a one inch binder clip holding it together on the right because the adhesives opposite “binding” gave up, quit holding on, saying, in effect, flap pages, flap. Or the volume–a loaner–was more roughly handled than Phaidon Press Limited ever could have imagined. It’s only six years old and falling apart. Page-turn gently; the young, too, are old nowadays. Even the strongest glues are temporary. Once inside the book, there’s this:

Tuesday 22 February

While investigating Trash Cooking we’ve come upon a small discovery: the fish scales we always throw away have this brilliant crispness. They don’t taste of very much in their own right – they’re more of a vehicle for the frying fat – but it’s delightful to watch them transform from small, disgusting, slimy refuse, to completely white, glassy, brittle flakes. They will certainly go on the menu somewhere. (24)

Trash Cooking clicks with a freegan impulse and gets me thinking again about food resourcefulness, also dumpster diving, also safety-netted scrounging and foraging experiments run on pseudo-precarity. It’s a different feeling when you the fish scales are piled and never make that leap. But anyway, whatever of it, guts and discardeds, today’s menus are for the most part idling. And more, six days later:

Monday 28 February

We’ve been obsessively drying anything and everything we can get our hands on. The rest of the staff outside the test kitchen are sullen, as we’ve commandeered every device with even the slightest heat to dehydrate our products. The Dried Kitchen is such a big project, far bigger than I realized, and it’s taking a goddamn long time. It takes three bloody days to dry an endive at 60° C [140° F]. Two days for a cucumber. At some point in my fervour, I asked the boys to dry every variety of pumpkin…but now I’m not so sure. (25)

I’m not so sure, too. I’ve had a Cosori dehydrator for a few weeks, drying some of this, drying some of that. 145° F/62.7° C, four hours at a time. Lemon juice soaked fruits with chili powder, cayenne, ginger, or cinnamon added. Lemons and blood oranges. Sweet potato chips in onion powder and, after a round of drying, barbecue sauce for a second round. Mung sprouts tossed in dijon. Mung sprouts soaked in pickle juice. Apple slices. Bananas slices several different ways, including peels on. Pears with dill weed. Possibly more than all the rest, I’m looking forward to separating fire cider, one month infused, liquid to bottles and solids to puree for drying and grinding into seasoning for I don’t know what, exactly, but probably popcorn topping. April 15 will be one month for the cider, but tomorrow, Easter (4/12), seems like as good a day as any to roll free the lids from the jar tops, convert solids to puree to leather to dust. But there’s a backlog in that cantaloupe and green apples will have to wait another day or two. These and other patiences. I’ll continue these meanderings for a while, slice and season and dry and sample, eat the dried foods whether they’re good or bad, forgettable or unforgettable. And as I do, I’ll puzzle out some of this:

  • Candying sequences, including chocolate coated citrus slices.
  • How to get the wire racks to more readily release the dried foods, including better uses of sheets, oils, or parchment.
  • Chopping/chunking fruits for baked goods reintegration (e.g., strawberry or banana nib brownies or chocolate chip cookies).
  • Homemade granola bars.

Coronavirus Questions

Today circulated a Facebook, Reddit, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube statement on misinformation related to COVID-19, or Coronavirus. The statement is laudable and timely; its goals are sound. But it also sidesteps the wide gulf between facts and uncertainties in a messy and complexly unfolding public health crisis. Turn to social media with wonder, fine. Express curiosities, unknowns, and so on, yes. Speculate and even sense-make together. This is slow-built knowledge, and it’s especially messy when it intermixes non-experts, heightened anxieties, and unverifiable contagion. I have questions, too, and I’m no expert on viruses, much less the Coronavirus.

  1. How did it begin? From a March 12 Vox article, “The genetic evidence and epidemiological information, according to three esteemed infectious disease researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘implicates a bat-origin virus infecting unidentified animal species sold in China’s live-animal markets.'” There are numerous other conspiracy theories. Those aside, to the point of this “bat sniffles and some other succession of animals” theory, what does this mean for continued contagion that moves between humans and animals? I’ve read of swine flu and bird flu resulting in the slaughter of carrier-animals. In the case of COVID-19, is it clear yet that animal cross-contagion is not an issue?
  2. If there aren’t enough tests (yet), or if the tests are sparingly issued such that everyday people calling their general practitioners to disclose symptoms are being told, you don’t meet the CDC criteria for testing, how are the rate of spread analytics considered reliable? Word of mouth indicates that some people with symptoms have been told they do not qualify for testing. They wait. But this alone would indicate serious limitations on what is knowable insofar as rates of spread.
  3. How lightly experienced are the most lightly experienced cases? That is, can someone have Coronavirus, experience negligible or mild symptoms for only a short period of time, and thereafter carry on (after two weeks) without putting others at risk? Without further risk, themselves? Does the lightest possible case of Coronavirus generate in a system the antibodies that will mitigate future risk of susceptibility or contagion?
  4. What is the relationship between viral load and severity of symptoms? If someone is exposed to a high viral load, is that person more likely to contract a serious case? Is the gravity of the illness linked to the viral load exposure? Does viral load in a patient fluctuate throughout the arc of affliction (the duration of the illness)?
  5. What is the relationship between the number of tests given and the number of people tested? Does one test mean one person has been tested? Two tests mean two people? Are most people who are tested tested twice? Is anyone tested more than twice? Are tests yielding inconsistent results counted as tests given?
  6. Has anyone answered directly/concretely how the Utah Jazz and other NBA teams were so swiftly able to get their player personnel tested? Or how an asymptomatic Idris Elba was tested? Are these simply matters of income or celebrity capitalizing on improved medical treatment?
  7. Is there any credence to homeopathic interventions, whether tinctures, infusions (vinegars), kombuchas or other fermented drinks, probiotics, or atmospherics (smudging)? That is, are there any dietary or physiological aids in anticipation of continued spread that chance mitigating the grip and spread of infection? Health advice circulating seems status quo generic–“take good care of yourself, eat right, get exercise, and so on.” Is there anything else likely to reduce or disrupt vulnerability? Like gargling salt water, taking extra vitamin C, use of a humidifier, and so on?
  8. Is there anything at all to be said for sequestered acceleration clusters (e.g., teams of ten who intentionally contract but who do so in isolation), particularly for intentionally getting some responders ahead of the curve? This is perhaps outlandish, and yet it chances being a reasonable tactic, if after contracting it and recovering, one’s system is emboldened so as to be better positioned for aiding others.

I realize the questions here cover quite a bit of range–from speculative scenarios to highly pragmatic decision points. They’re not meant to inspire misinformation but instead to put a finer point on concrete details that, to be fair, perhaps just are not known or knowable at this time. I’m wholly on board with curtailing the circulation of misinformation, but I hope can do better to express uncertainties as questions that might find their way to those who can–sooner or later–answer them well.

Shifting Online

The global pandemic (COVID-19) has universities deciding to shift classes from in-person to online quicklyquickly ranging from overnight to something like three weeks. Shorter than a couch-to-5k, in other words. As rapid changes like these spread through higher education, people speculate, wondering what it means, how long such changes will last, whether anyone (students and faculty alike) is really prepared, and so on. Everyone’s doing their part to make sense of an unfamiliar phenomenon, and that sense-making takes a variety of shapes–blobby, tentative, many temporary. A medical doctor in this coffee shop just walked in and said to me oh, hey, VT (coffee mug gifted from a former grad student gives it away); “this is gonna be okay; there’s a 97% survival rate.”

Insofar as the generally altruistic goal of social distancing as a measure to reduce human to human contact and thereby to slow rates of transmission, campuses are un-bunching themselves, emptying the dorms as much as possible, interrupting residential and study abroad programs, adjusting. Just yesterday afternoon I was emailed a fair forewarning heads-up–come up with a plan for supporting teachers in the Composition Program if and when this shift happens. I had a call with the program’s associate director, opened a Google Doc, and we generated with help from others on the leadership team a six page document: 1) key principles guiding modified teaching in Spring 2020, 2) reasonable and appropriate curricular adjustments, 3) allowances for the labor involved with adjusting a class initially designed to happen in-person, 4) a caveat about how this is not an effort to forge at overdrive clip through elaborate training in Online Writing Instruction, and 5) a modest collection of resources for re-orienting instructional staff to the university’s LMS. I don’t know if this is the right approach. It is a lean approach–minimalist, humane, focused as narrowly as possible on the problem before us as an eight-week problem, a getting-to-May-6 problem. COVID-19 and social distancing efforts may continuing into summer and fall, but we will think together about appropriate pedagogical responses to those terms later. If and when we get the email to go ahead, we will circulate the Spring 2020 plan with what we believe will suffice for now in its honoring student and instructor well-being; urging flexibility and direct, timely communication; and extending again the forms of support we can make available (responsiveness to questions, openness to working through specific problems, general and continuing availability, administrative reassurance, etc.). No magic beans; no more warrants for drama or anxiety than the pandemic has already touched off.

In talking through the shift to online and upon witnessing quite a bit of buzz about what such a shift presumes about the work of teaching and learning, the planning involved, or the nimbleness of faculty–conceptual, communicative, and technological nimblenesses varied and intersecting as they are–there’s been a (at risk of sounding mildly judgmental, I’ll say it) clumsy differentiation between face-to-face and online teaching. True, at its crudest, some teaching happens with human bodies in the same room at the same time and some other teaching happens with human bodies not in the same room at the same time. We’re at the cusp of a pivot from one model to the other. But that other model–the one where human bodies are not in the same room at the same time–need not measure itself against the intricate and expert apparatuses now long established informing online pedagogies. That is, for now, in this switch-over, we don’t have to lug out the longest-scrolling web pages or the heaviest volumes on online instruction. We don’t have to school everyone new to teaching in online environments about the intricacies and affordances; getting to May 6 is a make-do goal. With this in mind, I’ve been partial to framing this not as a full, frenzied move to online writing instruction (OWI in a hurry), but instead as an ad hoc Spring 2020 modification in which we do our best to solve a short-term problem, respecting novice-ness as genuine (and vulnerable) and exercising scope restraint. Rather than touting this as a full and comprehensive shift online, I’m advocating for something more like online-lite, a minimalist approach cast perhaps a bit more in the shadow of correspondence courses than media-rich and daresay over-produced LMS-sparkled palaces. We can in time make sure everyone knows about the scholarly traditions informing such well-designed, well-made online courses, and, to the extent that pandemic-motivated social distancing becomes more world feature than world bug, we can get better at tying in our programs with that important body of work. But for now, for this moment, a spare approach will suffice:

  • communicate with students (promptly and supportively)
  • express clear and as-stable-as-possible dates and times for drafts and intervals of drafts
  • let existing course materials (curriculum maps and textbooks) do the work they were set in place to do
  • build in constructive interactions, focused as much as possible on uncertainties, opportunities for developing the draft (feedback-oriented stuff whether with peers or instructor led). Also, check out Bill Hart-Davidson’s “Feedback Cultures – A Guide For Teachers Thinking about Moving Student-Centered Learning Online” at https://youtu.be/B4Fe_rS8208
  • err on the side of being positive, constructive, encouraging, and reassuring with students, with colleagues, with administrators working fitfully to unpick snarled problems, but especially with students.

For right now, for this moment, that’s enough.

Sweetwaters Swirl

Sweetwaters Ypsilanti Cross Street Saturday morning check-in will the wifi system remember login and password, yes, will WordPress remember login and password, yes, nostalgia for across the street I can see the water tower, other shoulder is campus where I worked, MLK Jr. bust where rallies held even as enrollments *whistle-sound* plummeted to the coconut clonk of meetings and more meetings and high shoulder shrugs but I’m not feeling anything in particular, heck, I barely even remember a lot of it.

COVID-19 Coronavirus crown translates and boom just like that again human backing and forthing about the right measure of response, fear and preparation, chill and clench, how will we die any of us? Living elders are told to stay put, don’t circulate (dead elders, do what you want, carry on, disperse, fan out, float float float). CDC says. Disease control teams let to let go no work for you two years ago positions vacated and unfilled until whoa WHOA! holy shit we need masks and respirators and tests and the numbers, are they even meaningful? Sort of. Quantitative scrambles for data stories; slow data journalism hurry up; how much is the suffering? Death is a bummer. But does the living with it and battling through–does it hurt? It’s scary not to get air. Terrifying to a body human or otherwise. Read writ that it started with a bat, a bat with sniffles who bit (or kissed toothily, even blood-suckled) a pig, whose butchered parts were passed around likely feasted upon by humans and in that supply chain offshed bloomed this virus. People love masked meat and bacon too too much sometimes. Not that the bat intended for this to blast the gen pop of humans. Neither should we blame the pig. Or the first person jumped upon by skydiving (surface-skiing COVID-19). Float float float.

It’s spring break now. And that means taking the feral to-do list to the groomer-trainer for a nail trim and domestication lessons, sit-stay and do not bite sort of stuff. Six chapters to sift re-orientingly like a cheese block through one of those shredder devices that’s hard to wash properly, to read for Monday the 16th, first day back on the Shanks Hall block. Unless people for sneezing and not washing their hands give yet greater proliferation–unwitting, nobody’s fault, no bat’s fault nor pig’s!–to this virus. And then we’ll meet online. But will CCCC be cancelled? Indicators suggest yes, it will. But it’s a damnable pickle for big orgs whose solvency depends overmuch on conventions. And there is so much hugging at conferences, so much close sitting, so much to catch up about and old friends. Where are you presenting? Den of contagion 31, Milwaukee Center, on Saturday’s last session, which means the offshed accumulations may well be at peakmost apex. Hand sanitizer will be in the audience smiling wryly at the COVID-19’s lurking invisibly low profile no name tags about the place.

More pesky than that are the closer and closer approaching deadlines for a title to send to U Virginia folks for upcoming invited talk–springtime reverdie theme and hopes I can work in opening vignette about mysterious disappearances and bread bag of pennies bursted into a middle Michigan snow bank in 1978. Gone. Then came back. Mysterious–momentarily devastating–disappearance. That plus a CCC review. Gonna get to that now, next. That plus getting into revised shape the textbook for next year. That plus reading other textbook manuscript for next week’s conference call about samesaid. That plus revisions on a chapter harnessed to snails but still moving, still, moving, stillmoving. Did you see that? It moved! Playing too much. Emoji for declaring effs bankruptcy; new effbank accounts with effdebit cards already at zero and overdrawn for annual charges. What the!? Plus a batch of writing from PhD students to read and comment. Plus social callings with old colleagues and friends, a beer Monday, evening food Wednesday, what day is it ever anyway, and the strum of parenting and grandparenting at a distance, back for a twinkle a smile a scoop. Before driving again to SW Virginia.

Wander Specific

Tuesday’s needlework by Janet Nelson, Brite Idea, Ypsilanti, Mich.
  • Black Friday and my daughter tells me she’s going to rebegin a bullet journal. What’s a bullet journal? It’s a meander, part lists, part planner, part whatever.
  • Here at this coffeeshop where it’s too loud at the time in the afternoon when they’re serving coffee drinks and beer, sometimes both at the same time to the same people, I’ve abandoned codingwerk on the edited collection to exhale for a moment, glance and screencap a few more tattoo ideas, spin a new entry at this blog.
  • The ideas are mainly lotus with long stem and roots showing because muck is where the development happens, or a dragonfly. Or an abstract squid. Anyway, the ors are ands, except that we only get these canvases for a little while.
  • I had a mocha latte. It was fine. I should have just had a chocolate bar instead.
  • Back at the Ypsi condo there’s a crock pot with honey barbecue pulled pork set to “keep warm.” That’s gonna be dolloped atop mac and cheese waffles in a little while, second day of overdoing it, same as the first day of overdoing it.
  • The pulled pork topped mac and cheese waffles need sriracha. I’m sensitive to “needs” discourses, but this time, yes, add sriracha, really.
  • I’ve never been in a hot air balloon. Never floated in a basket into the sky. This balloon, as such, is an imaginary. It’s what drifts. Labeled there at its side (both sides?), “wander specific,” what’s an autocorrect message from daughterchild sent to me some time ago, just before I took up working in Virginia. Something like, “I wasn’t specific,” reaching as, “I wander specific.”

Upon Not Panicking and After

The inventory I wrote nearly three months ago proved perspective-setting at the time, so I’m trying something similar here, trying to recover that feeling of checking back again on what the ever-living high tide has happened this summer, especially with work. The August Workshop runs next week–that’s the Composition Program’s week-long seminar that in focused ways anticipates the start of classes on August 26.

Summer has been work-intensive, but it hasn’t been all work. I’ve biked and swam, made several trips to Pickerel Lake, camped in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Ludington, Mich., swam in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, drove to Blacksburg then Nashville, also to Baltimore, also to Lansing for Computers & Writing. I’ve seen a few movies (Last Black Man in San Francisco, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and some TV shows (Euphoria, Barry, Chernobyl, When They See Us, Big Little Lies, probably something I’m forgetting). I flew to Albuquerque for Native Vision, but didn’t fly anywhere else. I got one massage. I will go for a tattoo tomorrow. I cooked my daughter’s birthday dinner on August 1. And I held my granddaughter a few times but not nearly enough, never nearly enough. I made several gallons of fermented vegetables. Ate some of them. Results were mixed. I started drinking coffee again. At neighbors’ request, I stood at a condo association board meeting and read a law about non-profit organizations and about how voter lists must be available at meetings where votes are being recorded, and I was shouted at by a lawyer, also called an asshole. So the summer has had range and depth and balance.

My to-do list remains feral more than tame. I complete things, experience a moment of calm, then get surprised by its biting or clawing or sometimes stinging out of the blue. Here are a few of the things that have been on the list in the last three months. I suppose I should keep track of things differently than I do.

  • Around May 20, I learned that we had sixty-one unstaffed sections of first-year writing for fall. And that set in motion a quickened pace search for thirteen new instructors. The search is still unfinished, so I shouldn’t say a whole lot about it. In terms of workload, it has been a steady and as measured as possible ten weeks. We still, as of today, have six unstaffed sections of first-year writing for fall. Fall semester begins in 20 days.
  • Since May 20, I have received 1154 emails and sent 763 emails. Be the email reduction filter you want to see in the world. But, too, 763 sends is more than I’d prefer for the three months between spring and fall. Notably, not all emails are equal. Some are flits and some are more intricately built. What would it look like to operate in an administrative capacity where email was infrequent, discouraged, altogether abandoned? What, instead, might we use? Are there Slack-only writing programs? Are there in 2019 administrators who decline to use email?
  • I received, read, and returned 42 course equivalency requests since May 20. How does this compare? Who knows. But I’m keeping track of it.
  • I wrote, submitted, and approved edits on an encyclopedia-like entry on heuristics.
  • I presented at Computers & Writing in Lansing and also collected a book award for Network Sense.
  • I attended CWPA in Baltimore, going to a handful of sessions and also participating on the executive board for the first time.
  • I gathered into one place something like 6,000 words toward an article I’d like very much to have sent off yet this fall. But hours dedicated to writing feel both spare and distant at the moment. So this one can sit quietly until early September.
  • I drafted a chapter for a collaborative project (7,000 words plus sixteen figures). Sent that off. And am almost done with revisions on another chapter for that same project (6,000 words plus seven figures). One more chapter is due by the end of the fall semester.
  • I made modest revisions to the chapter I’ve contributed to the Radiant Figures collection. Also mocked up two model chapters and, with co-editors, fine-tuned and submitted that collection’s proposal, which we should be hearing back about before the end of August. With any luck.🍀
  • I worked with VT colleagues on the finishing steps toward compiling a writing programs self-study report that’s gone off to the CWPA evaluator-consultant service and, as well, to the two C-E visitors we’ll have on campus at the end of September. The self-study is maybe 5000 words, but it includes fourteen appendices and thus expanded to something like a 101-page PDF. Next will be scheduling the visit more precisely. Lots of email involved in that.
  • Registered for FemRhet and have continued to shepherd along a process of registering the 10+ graduate students who will be on a roundtable about intersectionality at that conference in November. Submitted a proposal to RSA in Portland next May. I wrote a proposal for a possible lecture at Bland Correctional Facility, though I still don’t quite know if that will be scheduled for fall. And I’m needing very soon to generate a title and blurb for a talk at U Findlay happening in late October. I think it will be a talk drawn from the shadows of the article draft a few bullets back (though the framing is a tad cynical, dissolutionist, endist, accelerationist, fretting with a very particular precariat).
  • Work on Corridors has centimetered along, too, and I’ve just about finished preparation for the talk I’ll share at that event on September 21. It’s something of a follow-up and extension to the argument for visualizing DFWI, grappling with matters of disability, visible, invisible, and otherwise undisclosed.
  • I was elected (unopposed) Treasurer of the Writing Across Virginia Affiliate, what will soon be proposed as a Virginia-specific WPA affiliate chapter.
  • I have a external tenure review due at month’s end; that’s been a letter written by chipping away. Shouldn’t be any problem at all honoring that deadline.
  • If there is more, I can’t think of it.

I’ll begin teaching a section of ENGL5454: Studies in Theory, what’s a temporary placeholder name for the composition theory and practice class. We have nineteen new GTAs who need to take it, and so we’ve split the section into two, doing what all we can (and should) to honor its functioning more like a graduate seminar than an undergraduate class.

And the week-long August Workshop takes motion next week, though at the moment it has wobbled a bit for miscoordination of dates. Whatever of it, it’s nothing a panic will resolve, so we’re trying other problem-solving tactics. It will all happen, and then it will be fall.

While in Bernalillo

Returned late Saturday from the 23rd annual Native Vision, this year in Bernalillo, NM, June 13-16. Always more sparkle in a year when, after a successful fundraising campaign, we’re able to send basketball campers home with a basketball they can use year-round. What follows is a scattering of notes, takeaways, glimpses, and lasting impressions.

Coaches and players arrived on Wednesday evening, gathering at the N. Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid for a welcome dinner and reception. Before the dinner and reception I swam until I could no longer feel the lowly buzz of air travel in my numbnesses. And before that I talked with longtime friends in the lobby and sipped from the six different infused waters on offer.

On Thursday morning we bussed to Sandia Pueblo for their Feast Day, arriving just after the first of two corn dances had commenced, between two and three hundred dancers, unforgettably ornate. Coaches and players divided into thirds, and so a third of us were invited as guests into the governor’s house where we sat at the long table and ate. Learned before eating of a blessing of plenty: crumb of bread in the left hand, crumb of bread in the right, then touch each portion before placing it into a common clay-fired bowl, the morsel in the left going to the spirit of relations who’ve walked on and in the right to those who are experiencing need or hardship. This before eating.

On Thursday afternoon, Corey and I went with a group of basketball players who’d selected the Team Building/Bullying Prevention workshop. Led by San Felipe’s Project Venture, it consisted of a pair of games or obstacle courses; we spent maybe thirty or so minutes at each–one called Bridge to Freedom that had us using boards and balance to build a route across a shaded area, another whose name I didn’t learn that was something like Giant Shoes, walking in sync in teams of four to retrieve prizes, or, if anyone fell off, to have added a blindfold so as to make the course more challenging. One of the organizers spoke as we concluded about complexity and relationality. To illustrate, he pointed to where our shadows touched the earth and suggested that the earth itself cannot help but transformed in the lesser-lit place where shadows were discernible. A shadow marks; its inscription temporary-seeming, or enduring lastingly. Reminded me again, as did so much this weekend, about Shawn Wilson’s Research Is Ceremony, about the most basic tenets of phenomenology ascribable to an indigenous cosmology. As Wilson explains it, for Western positivism and its empirical biases, seeing is believing, but that’s only half of the story. The rest of the story, Wilson writes, is that believing is seeing. Believing makes seeing possible. Every shadow ever, writ, known and knowable.

Coach D and Coach Kayla talking with Native Vision camp-goers at the Friday morning layup station.

I ate dinner on Thursday evening with two nine year-olds from San Felipe who told me about glitching, about video games they enjoy, about their families, about how they were related, about the trades from their dinner trays they were willing to make, hints of hardship, mostly optimism and hope. Pets, too. I learned all about so many pets. The one told me, too, about how not last year but the year before, South Pole Santa brought him a puppy on Christmas Day. South Pole Santa? There is much to enjoy in the gifts of a white, Western Santa, but beyond the cultural pomp and mythos and costume, it’s of a limited dimension. South Pole Santa is, as it was explained to me, an adaptation, another santa who is communal, local, tribal, whose giving is not cloaked in something so popular but who is more harmonious with Pueblo values, more visible and honest with gift giving from source.

Sharing a few comments at closing ceremony about how 48 hours isn’t a long time, but it is enough time to change, even a little bit.

At Saturday morning’s closing ceremonies, I was listed on the camp itinerary as the representative from the basketball coaches who would share a few words. I went ahead extemporaneous, considering at first a couple of anecdotes from the camp, about the campers whose names I remembered, or about the third group of basketballers who on Friday morning made 22 layups in a row when there were only 18 of them, a remarkable showing for its being unexpected, shared, surprising to all of us. But on Saturday instead I said a few remarks about how 48 hours–the duration of the camp–is enough time to recount 48 instances of exemplary sportsplay, model attitudes, great players making great plays. It’s not a lot of time, but it is enough time to change, even a little bit, and to carry on that transformation, applying what’s learned, practicing and playing year round.

Far, far more impressive than these remarks, however, were the remarks of my friends and peers, the other coaches, LJ leaving me verklempt as he does every year, this time with a few words about Father’s Day. Before us, though, it was a local who told us all about ceremony, about gratitudes to the elements all, about how blowing a conch to each of the four directions is akin to thanking the directions, about how we should turn and face each direction as he pivoted. And so we did. First to the east. One by one, the four directions. After the coaches spoke, together we followed the drum circle’s lead through a friendship dance and then a thank-you dance.

There’s more, always more, but this will do for now. And I may add to it in the next day or two, though I have a mountain of work to do, all of which a few days in the shadow of Sandia has more than prepared me for.

Don’t Panic

Used to blog so hard and so often in my thirties. Hobby of that decade, 2004-2013. Like shooting baskets in my twenties, 1994-2003, fiddling around in my teens, 1987-1993, listening to cassette tapes on any Walkman in my preteens, 1984-1986, eating peanut butter Twix in my aughts, 1979-1983. I don’t think I had any Twix before I turned five to be clear. I sit with uncertainty about whether peanut butter should be Capitalized. Capitalize it Optional (proper noun and/or adjectival), but damn sure capitalize it Delicious, too.

Now it’s the end of the first full year of a new job at a new university in a new state and I was awake in the night the other night whatever day that was because sometimes now that I’m in my middle forties, 2017-present, I experience biphasic sleep and also polyphasic sleep and sometimes during the day I close the Shanks 315 office door and unfurl a nap roll I keep in the bottom drawer of a big black file cabinet with only just a few files in it and where on the floor the thin roll lays flat, that’s where I have a nap. A power nap, which means I keep it to what maybe twenty minutes. Biphasia or polyphasia, I’ve learned not to even be perturbed by these, not even at 3 a.m. or 4.

This was going to be a few lines about the decade that was this year, long-times feeling extra long for constant-inconstant spatiotemporal reorientation. Not even complaining. Just thinking about the difference between a time traveller’s dilemma and a regular traveller’s dilemma, orienting to When Am I?, and seeing that question continuously interrupted as if through a kaleidoscope. Nice to look at-through, though, because it’s constantly colorful and doesn’t ever disappoint like some things if you know what I mean.

Our contracts run from August 10 through May 9 every year. Nine months before the fata morgana of summertime clearings and oases and poolside sun-bathed splash panacea. A few bullets about what I’ve been doing, what I’ve been up to this year, AY 2018-2019.

  • Oh ffs taken to court over a condominium by-laws situation in Ypsilanti and then it was dismissed and then I was sued civilly, and that’s still working itself out very gradually.
  • I became a grandpa on February 23. It’s wonderful and humbling and now I wear rubber overshoes when it is rainy outside on my walk to and from campus and I give far fewer centimeters-height of shrug about what I wear. I like it, too, grandparenthood, as an equanimity refrain. Some ish is going down and I’m gonna just think for a while about this awe-inspiring granddaughter over there in Michigan.
  • In the Composition Program I direct, we revised the outcomes, adopted a new custom textbook, wrote substantially a couple of the chapters for the book, met and met again to negotiate the price to something just exactly right (well, reasonable), put together hokieswrite.com and filled the pages with all variety of in-progress resources, wrote an application for an $18,600 grant that then was awarded so as to assure more formidable uptake of program-wide assessment, funds enough to incentivize really a couple of workshops and to build forms digital and analog as simple collectors for competency ratings, above, below, and middling, an inherited design with several known limitations for writing. And then this afternoon generated 53 letters for disbursing the grant.
  • I’ve not said no! to any committee yet, which puts me on personnel, professional and technical writing ad hoc subcommittee, the rhetoric and writing committee, the composition committee (chair), the department executive committee, also the graduate admissions selection committee for the PhD program and the Carolyn Rude Award committee for graduate student article writing, though these last two met just once.
  • I also said yes! to eight doctoral committees so far, but I’m not chairing any of them. This work will accelerate next fall when six of them take exams and hold exam defenses in October. Last October I had just one exam defense.
  • I met new colleagues for eight social lunches in AY 2018-2019. Two were at a barbecue place whose name I forget but know has to do with under the stairs or downstairs or beneath the stairs, one at Gillie’s, two at The Cellar, one at Blacksburg Tavern, one at Green’s, and one at Blacksburg Taphouse. Twice I went by myself for a waffle lunch at Waffle House. I had Jimmie Johns delivered to my office three times.
  • I participated as a mock interviewer for two mock interviews, attended a book group meeting on Cathy Davidson’s The New Education, completed online IRB certification, gained online teaching certification by taking a class especially banal and platitude-filled, sat and talked for an hour with a delegation from Shadong University one day, and sat and talked for two hours as part of an invited Open Access Week panel focused on open access publishing.
  • I was nominated for the CWPA ExecBoard, accepted a place on the ballot, blurb and photo, and was elected to a post for the next three years.
  • I put on the two assessment workshops, each two hours long (mostly a re-run, the second iteration) and prepped and delivered four program-wide teaching talks. Sometimes 30 people attended and other times 55 people attended. The lunch was provided by the program at these talks and mostly everyone expressed gratitude for its being free and for there being two six foot long Sub Station II sandwiches, several feet as vegetable sub and several more feet as meat sub, plus a large bowl of pickles each time.
  • I put in a request for new office flooring because the low pile industrial grade carpet in my office was so very well trafficked that I thought my nap roll was being introduced to the who knows what it could even be from other people’s shoes having walked through Shanks 315 however long ago that happened. And so it was in April a tall stack of plastic bins from facilities arriving and everything was loaded and moved, glue down imitation wood laminate flooring set in place and everything moved back again, only about a week or so without an office around Easter Weekend and the best parts are that the new flooring makes the space a lot nicer to spend so many hours in and that I finally impressed a semi-dull boredom of order on the books and journals shelved about.
  • █ █████ ███ ████████ ██ ███ █████ ███████ █ ██ █ ███. ██████ █ ██ █████ ███ ██ ████████ ███ ████ █ ██ █ ███. █ █████ ███ ██ ██ ████ █████ ███ ████████ ██ ███ █████ ███████ █ ██ █ ███. ██████ ████████████ █ ███ █████ ███████ █ ██ █ ███!
  • I drove to Michigan and back, approximately 500 miles each way, seven times but never more than once in any month. I also drove to Louisville and Pittsburgh for conferences. This was the first AY year I did not fly for a conference nor for any other trip. In mid-June I’ll fly to Albuquerque for Native Vision.
  • I attended six presentations in the department, besides the department head finalists: S.C., C.G. A.V., Z.S., L.F., and A.K. And I had dinner with C.G., A.V., Z.S., and L.F., as these were guests from afar. Six talks, four meals.
  • Unsuccessful DH search this winter was another three talks, three meals, various meetings, too. Combined with the previous bullet, that adds up to nine talks and seven meals.
  • I lead the Composition Program orientation meeting in August, took lead on coordinating an in-progress CWPA evaluator-consultant visit, self-study, planning, and so on, won a research impact award for Network Sense, signed a textbook contract, taught an online section of technical writing in the three week winter term mostly to learn who takes the class and how it is designed, etc.
  • I hiked eight hikes: Pandapas Pond x5, Cascades x2, and Dragon’s Tooth x1.
  • I had what I would count as thirteen outreach-ish meetings: Pathways/Gen Ed x2, integrity office (about Turnitin.com; didn’t go well), library, bookstore x2, publisher x4, LCI x3.
  • I co-edited and also contributed to a DRC blog carnival in fall, wrote a chapter, “Silhouetto of DFWI,” for the Radiant Figures edited collection, and read and wrote review notes for thirteen chapters in that collection that will be in the hands of contributors by month’s end. I presented at Watson (Louisville, October) and Cs (Pittsburgh, March), will present at Computers & Writing (Lansing, June), and I have proposals sent off for Cs (Milwaukee next March), Corridors (Blacksburg, September), an acceptance to FemRhet (Harrisonburg, November), and a draft proposal for RSA (Portland next May).
  • I will participate in two graduation ceremonies next week: the first in plain clothes as an usher (“disability escort #2”) at the undergraduate commencement and the second in regalia at the English Department commencement. I inherited a robe, bought from Syracuse’s bookstore a hood of my own, bright orange blue-edged.
  • At last count, as of maybe two weeks ago, I sent 2,144 emails and received 4,387 emails at my vt.edu account. Sometimes I send one email that reaches more than 100 people. Sometimes there are flurries of short emails volleyed in succession with one person. I placed five phone calls using my office telephone. I received one real-time phone call in my office and five voice messages. Two of the voice messages were from bots who didn’t even know I hadn’t answered.

I left some stuff out of this quantified self rundown. Nothing much about how much running or yoga or how many times I strained my right calf or how many times I felt straining in my right calf but didn’t completely wreck it. Nothing about Chicken Hill. Or about television. Nothing about fermentations, batches of kombucha, pickled eggs for lunch. Nothing about how many times I stopped for gasoline in West Virginia. Or how many times I used the fireplace. Or how much La Croix I drank. Or how many homemade pizzas I made and then ate. How many sporting events I watched at colleagues’ houses or at VT sporting facilities. Nothing about being more or less strictly off caffeine from November 1 until May 3. There are holes in this account and gaps. Aren’t there always.

Triangles Are Tricky – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

Time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 16th annual. Like last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), continuing with the upset bonuses, +2 points for upsets in the first two rounds, +1 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. There’s no time time for consulting with your local hedgehog farmer, warming the oven to make a pizza on a pizza steel much less a pizza stone, staring into the sun (never advisable) while wondering about the rate at which your bracket will melt if you choose that team you kind of love.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, freee to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Triangles Are Tricky (ID#97347). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, freegans, Canadian compadres, Facebook abandoners, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, sentiment analyists, green kitchen molds, too-long-didn’t-readers, members of Relationshoppers Anonymous, people who can’t find the nutritional yeast at Kroger, neighbors of Appalachian permaculturists, people who say they train on a bike but who haven’t trained on a bike in over a month, flexitarians, Blacksburg tattoo artists, grandchildren at the frozen yogurt place, honey badger whisperers, assessment ninjas, members of the band practicing on the upper quad now that the weather is nicer, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Giant stakes: reputations are made (or treated to eternal lessons in impermanence) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Triangles Are Tricky (ID# 97347)
“16th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 17, and first tip of the round of 64, whatever time that is EDT on Thursday, March 21.

Not Just Any

Family photograph at the holidays, maybe 1984.
Family photograph at the holidays, maybe 1984.

Overnight, planted digitally from the Pacific northwest by my aunt, not just any photo but this one, my dad’s family at Sheboygan, Wisc., holiday, my grandfather, Arvin, notably a WWII veteran, front-right, my parents to the right, brother just behind me, genuine smiles in a moment I can’t quite remember until I see this, but where is memory, anyway?, because then it is there in front of you, kermit frog-eyeing a collapsed cookie monster, an early 1980s Jim Henson haircut, almost but not quite matching shirts, and especially my great-grandmother, Meta, her hand at my back bringing me closer. #relations